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BEDFORD PIM, Captain R.N., 




3llu*trateti Smtfj plates an* JEapg, 




/ /0^ l 









GTJjis SSEork is, Jjg permission, IBeoicateu, 




Since the year 1846 the authors of this work have 
been practically acquainted with Central America, 
and have travelled over the greater part of it. They 
hope, therefore, that a few 'Dottings on the Koad- 
side ' about countries so much talked of, yet so little 
known as Panama, Nicaragua, and Mosquito, may be 

Their object has been to place before the public the 
knowledge they have gleaned in such a form that 
those who desire information on the subject may be 
assisted in forming a correct judgment as to the real 
condition of British relations with the American 

Since the time when Mr. Monroe undertook to lay 
down a trade doctrine for the New World, and claimed 
a monopoly of the entire Continent for his countrymen, 
the difficulty of transacting business there has steadily 
increased ; nor is it likely to be lessened, so long as 
the folly is every year perpetuated of allowing 200,000 
emigrants and at least £1,000,000 sterling to drift 
across the Atlantic, to swell the ranks of the gigantic 


" Trades Union " which the United States have now 

That the period is not far off when at least the 
northern part of the Western Hemisphere will be more 
or less closed to English commercial enterprise, seems 
clear from the following apparently acceptable counsel 
just given (April 1869) to the new President, General 
U. S. Grant :— 

" Here are Cuba, St. Domingo, and Mexico, and the Cen- 
tral American States down to Darien. They are the locks 
and keys of the Gulf and of the American Isthmus passages 
from ocean to ocean. A decisive American policy on the 
part of General Grant will absorb all these outlying islands 
and States, and add so largely to our material revenues as to 
reduce the national debt to a mere trifle, Then there are 
the Alabama claims, a proper basis upon which to negotiate 
the cession to the United States of her Britannic Majesty's 
North American provinces of the New Dominion, from Hali- 
fax to Vancouver Island ; for this thing, too, is in the order 
of " manifest destiny." 

To this subject, of which the u Mosquito Ques- 
tion" forms no inconsiderable part, the undersigned 
has devoted much time and attention, which he hopes 
may atone in some degree for the marked contrast be- 
tween the literary style of his part of the book and that 
of Dr. Berthold Seemann, who is still absent in Ni- 
caragua, but whose ' Dottings ' have already appeared 
in the ' Athenaeum.' 

The Plates are from sketches taken on the spot by 
Lieutenant Oliver, E.A., and Mr. George Chambers, 


both of whom accompanied the undersigned in some 
of his jonrneyings. 

The Maps, for which he is solely responsible, contain 
the latest reliable additions and corrections, the result 
of nearly ten years' experience of the nature of the 

The Appendix has been carefully arranged, and 
in it — thanks to a great authority on Mosquitian 
affairs, Mr. Henry Jacobs, — will be found ample ma- 
terials for those who desire fuller details. 


Captain, Royal Navy. 

11, Belsize Square, Hampstead, N.W. 
May, 1860 




Attempted Negro Revolt at Panama. — General Olarte. — Petition 
from a Convict Boy. — Railroad across the Isthmus. — Improve- 
ments caused by it. — Foreign Enterprise. — Gold Mines of 
Barbacoas. — War between Spain and Chili. — Anecdote of 
Abraham Lincoln 1 


Treasure-trove. — The Story of the Cocos Island. — An Old 
Pirate. — The Divining Eod in the New World. — I awake and 
find myself famous. — Captain Dow. — M. Zeltner. — Chiriqui 
Inscriptions. — Their Singular Resemblance to the Ancient 
British.— A Bold Theory m , . . _. 17 


Departure from Panama. — The Railroad Steamers. — Punta 
Arenas. — Expedition up the Rio Frio. — Modern Sirens. — Co- 
rinto. — Captain Cauty. — Leon. — A Disagreeable-smelling 
Plant. — Mimicry in Nature.— We Start for New Segovia . . 33 


A Deep Well.— A Short Cut.— Farm of Pilon.— Achuapa.— The 
Schoolmaster Abroad. — Region of Oaks and Pines. — Bonbon. 
— Jamaili. — Future of Nicaragua. — Arrival at Ocotal . . . 49 




General Interest of Spanish Americans in Mining. — Excursions 
to Maquelizo, Limon, and Depilto. — Departure from Ocotal. — 
Matagalpa. — Ocalca. — Sebaco. — A Royal Present .... 65 


Foreign Enterprise in Nicaragua. — Negative Kesult of our Journey 
through New Segovia and Matagalpa. — Resolve to try Chon- 
tales. — Sketch of the Exploration of that Gold District by 
Captain Pirn and his Party. — Our Return to Leon . . . . 81 


Departure from Leon for Chontales. — Huge Tree at Nagarote. — 
Relieving a Thirsty Soul. — Managua. — General Martinez. — 
Lagoon of Tiscapa. — Arrival at Libertad 95 


The Story of the Javali Mine. — Gold of Nicaragua. — Earth 
Eaters. — Vegetation. — Indians. — Antiquities 107 


Visit to the Head- Quarters of the Chontales Company. — Rough- 
ing it. — Amusing Narrative of Nicaraguan Travel. — The Pur- 
chase of the Javali Mine determined upon. — Religious Service 
under Difficulties. — San Juan and San Miguel Mines. — 
Journey to Granada. — Acote. — Granada. — Homeward Journey. 
— Managua. — Jjeon. — Captain Dow. — Specimen of Popular 
Scientific Writing 12! 




Punta Arenas. — Excursion to the Island of San Lucas. — Arrival 
in the Bay of Panama. — Note about South- American Pile- 
Builders. — A Geographical Puzzle about the Cocoa-Nut. — Ex- 
cursion to the Bayano Eiver. — Reflections on the Ruins of Old 
Panama 149 


Rise of the Buccaneers. — Henry Morgan. — Invasion of the 
Isthmus of Panama. — Storming of Cbagres. — Destruction of 
Old Panama 165 


Departure of Author for Panama. — Return to Nicaragua. — La 
Merced. — Natural Products of the Country. — The Javali Again. 
— Opening up Road to the Atlantic. — A Nocturnal Pete. — 
Two Dying-out Races. — Return to England 193 


A Geographical Lecture. — Kingston. — Coaling a Steamer.— 
Leave-taking and Shopping. — Negro Cruelty and Insolence. — 
Port Royal. — A Dignity. — Departure from Jamaica .... 209 


Port Royal to Grey town. — A Gloomy Look-out. — Dr. Green 
and Mr. Cottrell.— Singular Silting.— Rolling. —The First 
Lieutenant's and Doctor's Yiews. — Homily . . . • . • 225 


Canoes and Canoemen. — Sailing on Friday. — Columbus Dis- 
covers Mosquito. — Boundaries of Mosquito. — Early Account 


of Aborigines.— Eating Monkey not Cannibalism. — A Spanish 
Riot Act. — A Cacique's Idea of the Pope 241 


A Pleasure Trip. — Current and Coasting. — Aspect of Country 
and Soundings. — Pirn's Bay and Cays. — Blewfields Bluff. — 
The King of Mosquito. — His Library. — Opinion of Yankees . 257 


Mr. Miertsching.— Account of Mosquito Mission. — The Rama 
Indians. — Last Census Returns, 1868. — A Moravian Church. 
— History of the Moravians. — Their Form of Government. — 
The c Messenger of Peace ' 274 


A Naive Confession. — Queen Dowager and Princesses. — Unso- 
phisticated Nature. — A Fleet of Turtlers. — A Hungry Shark. 
— His Majesty on Board 291 


Aborigines. — Manners and Customs. — Births, Deaths, and Mar- 
riages. — Mosquito Indians v. Trades Unions. — Early History 
of Mosquito. — Nelson's Attack on Nicaragua. — Bill of Fare. 
— An Interesting Comparison. — Bolivar's Prediction. — Yearly 
Revolutions 305 


The Corn Islands. — Good Feeding-Ground. — A Rainy Fact. — 
Value of a Slave. — Cheap Philanthropy. — Buccaneer Haunts. 
— Old Providence. — St. Andrew's. — Mosquito Treaty. — Dog 



in the Manger. — Stars and Stripes. — Transit. — Statesmen or 
Politicians? 321 


Nicaragua versus Mosquito. — Transit. — The British Interpose. — 
A. Comparison between '48 and '68. — True Economy. — Di- 
plomacy and Intrigue. — Mr. Squier. — Destruction of Greytown. 
— Alabama. — Monroe Doctrine. — Use of Transits. — India- 
Eubber. — Pirn's Bay. — Snakes . 337 


Popular Errors on Mosquito. — Revulsion of Feeling. — Adieu to 
the " Shore." — Early Transit Efforts. — Concession. — Journey- 
ings. — Chontales. — Nicaraguan Railway Company, Limited. — 
Mr. W. H. Webb. — Junction of Atlantic and Pacific. — Nicara- 
guan idea of Colonization 357 


Blewfields Eiver. — The Great Storm of 1865. — Boat Impaled on 
Cocoa-nut Tree.— New Field for Professor Owen and Dr. 
Giinther. — Strong and "Weak Dollars. — How to Make a 
Chowpa. — Laying-in Provisions .369 


The Start up River. — Travelling by Night. — An Arctic Negro. — 
Brackish Water. — A Carib Breakfast. — Mosquitian Villas. — 
Hieroglyphics. — Woolwa Indians. — Kisilala. — Mush-La. — A 
Live Candlestick. — Mahogany. — Its Great Value. — Indian 
Manners. — -Chocolate. — The Spanish Hammock 385 


Up River Notes. — Indian Geographers. — Carka to Javali. — 



Ophir. — Iguana. — How to Fight "Do Dcbbcl." — Simon. — 
Arrive tit Blewfielris. — Result of Trip. — Dr. Seemann. — Conclu- 
sion 417 


Terms of Concession concluded in 3 859 between His Majesty the 

King and Commander Bedford Pirn, Royal Navy .... 435 
Terms of Railway Concession concluded in 18G5 between the Go- 
vernment of Nicaragua and Captain Bedford Pirn, of the En- 
glish Royal Navy 437 

Treaty between Her Majesty and the Republic of Honduras re- 
specting the Bay Islands, the Mosquito Indians, and the Rights 

and Claims of British. Subjects ., 446 

Proceedings at a Public Meeting held at Blewfields, May 1st, 1867 450 

Bibliography 45 7 

King of Mosquito's Certificate 468 



Nicakagtja and Mosquito to face page 1 

Part of Mosquito and Chontales 360 


Javali Mine to face Title 

Catching Sardines 100 

Ancient Grave and Headstone 126 

Crossing the Bar at Greytown 229 

Indian Hut 295 

Junction of Atlantic and Pacific 365 







The cracked bells of Panama Cathedral had chimed 
half-past ten, and I was just thinking of transcribing 
a few dottings made for the ' Athenaeum ' since leaving 
Southampton, when my musings were suddenly inter- 
rupted by the repeated discharge of musketry. Half- 
past ten is a late hour of night in this part of the 
world, when all good people are fast asleep ; but the 
firing seemed to awaken everybody, and I soon 
learned what had happened. The dark forebodings 
of the local papers, that the negroes would attempt 
a rising, had been fulfilled. Their programme to 



upset the Government, give the city up to pillage, 
kill all the white men they could, and distribute 
the prettiest of the white women amongst their 
ugly ringleaders, was about to be carried out. 
Though the noise increased every moment, a Chi- 
lian merchant, with whom I had to share a room 
in the overcrowded Aspinwall Hotel, slept so soundly 
that I was compelled to shake him rudely in order to 
awaken him. He stared when told that he might 
have his throat cut before he was aware of it ! The 
Calle Eeal was full of soldiers, and on the balco- 
nies of the different houses were groups of frightened 
people, awaiting, arms in hand, the attacks of the 
negro mob. Fortunately for all concerned, General 
Olarte, commanding the garrison of this place, mostly 
pure Indians, was equal to the emergency, and spared 
us the horrors which u our black brothers" had in 
store for us. 

It appears that, if the revolt had been successful, a 
Venezuelan General, Lavel de Goda, who was a fre- 
quent visitor at Aspinwall Hotel, and attracted the 
attention of every one by his distinguished appearance 
and tasteful toilet, was to have been the President 
of this State of the Eepublic. The negro party had also 
endeavoured to bribe one of Olarte' s officers to admit 
them into the principal barrack of the town, and supply 
them with arms and ammunition. The officer, feigning 
compliance, admitted about 100 negroes and some of 
their leaders, and then suddenly closed the trap. At 
this moment General Olarte arrived with more soldiers, 
and a few rounds of shot dispersed the rabble, eleven 

Chap. I.— B. S.] GENERAL OLAETE. d 

negroes being killed on the spot, and a good many 
others mortally wounded. 

The next morning, that is, on the 25th of March, 
1866, everybody went to inspect the scene of action. 
The corpses of the negroes had been left as a warning 
on the ground, and I have seldom seen more brntal 
faces. Afterwards I passed a mean-looking building, 
where a crowd was gathering, and there saw a colonel 
of the rebels, more than two-thirds negro, just in the 
act of dying. Once before this man had been in arms 
against the Eepnblic, and he had been banished in 
consequence ; but recently he had taken the liberty of 
returning, and was now paying the penalty of his folly. 
He was dressed in full uniform, and stretched out on 
the floor, closely surrounded by a crowd of negroes 
and Californian gold-diggers. His poor old mother 
was by his side, uttering frantic shrieks ; but the rest 
of the crowd exhibited no sign of sympathy, and no 
sooner had he drawn his last breath than four sturdy 
negroes carried him off as if he had been a mere log 
of wood, though he had just died in the vain attempt 
to obtain for them greater liberty, or rather say licence ; 
for in New Granada, of which the Isthmus of Panama 
forms a part, all the inhabitants, of whatever colour, 
have equal privileges. 

General Olarte, the saviour of society in this in- 
stance, is a fine, soldier-like man, with handsome 
features, and a splendid jet-black beard. ' ' The moment 
I looked into his face I knew the negro was doomed." 
There was something there which plainly told that 
he knew the cowardly disposition of the blacks, and 

B 2 


was not afraid to act upon his own responsibility. 
The morning after the outbreak he was busy making 
arrests, and the coolness which he displayed sat well 
upon him. He wore plain clothes, and carried nothing 
but a riding-whip. A young officer and a private 
soldier, a grinning, good-humoured, shoeless Indian, 
dressed in a dirty -white cotton uniform with red 
facings, and merely a bayonet by his side, were the 
General's only companions. Amongst those whom I 
happened to see arrested was a well-dressed coloured 
man, who went to prison with a swagger, involuntarily 
reminding one of Don Ca3sar de Bazan. He smoked 
his cigarette with the greatest nonchalance and in 
passing some of his friends made gestures as much as 
to say, This is the way in which the last of a noble 
race should die. The grinning Indian had also lit his 
cigarette, and seemed quite to enjoy the fun of the 
situation. Two of the negro servants of Aspinwall 
Hotel were beckoned out and shut up ; whilst another 
servant, also a darky, had been too severely wounded 
the night before to allow him to be removed. The 
latter was to have been minister-of-war ; and, under 
these circumstances, he had thought it incumbent 
upon himself to turn out the night before and lead 
the charge, which resulted in his receiving two shots 
in the back, almost fatal to him. He had been indis- 
creet enough to tell the other waiters the grandeur 
that he was about to assume ; how he was going to 
have his bedroom papered with bank-notes, and who 
was the young white lady he had an eye to in case all 
should go well. What a burlesque the politics of 


Spanish America are ! When some months afterwards 
I paid another visit to Panama, he had so far recovered 
as to be able to wait at table again, and I heard the 
guests of the Aspinwall banter him occasionally about 
his lofty aspirations. " Gentlemen," he said, on one 
of these occasions, " I have relinquished my political 
career, and resumed my ordinary occupation ; so please 
don't tease." 

In the square before the prison were crowds of 
coloured women, most of them shouting to the pri- 
soners who had been caught in the trap the night 
before. They had brought for them quantities of ci- 
gars, oranges, pine-apples, and other good things, which 
the good-natured Indian soldiers carried in to them. 
The prisoners seemed to be in the very best of spirits, 
and kept up a continual bantering with their outside 
friends, little thinking that at that moment it was 
seriously debated whether all of them should or should 
not be shot. 

"Whilst wondering at the strange scene before me, a 
negro boy of about seventeen and belonging to the 
chain-gang, introduced himself as a native of Jamaica 
and a former pupil of one of the missionary schools 
there. In a most respectful yet insinuating manner 
he begged me to receive "a petition," which, he as- 
sured me, he had written all himself. The document, 
wdiich he desired me to keep, ran, spelling and all, as 
follows : — 

" March 11, 1866. 

"My dear Gentlemen. — I have just take up My 
Pen in hand to Address you in these few Lines hoping 

6 DOTTING S ON THE ROADSIDE. [Cjiap. I.— 13. S. 

wlicn it Beaches your hand it may find you as it 
Leaves me at Present. Sir, and i have just ask you 
this favour if you could let Me have Something if you 
Please, for i Am a Poor Stranger and i as got No 
Person to give Me Nothing at All, Sir, for I Am in 
the Chain Gang, Sir, not for stealing, for the Holy 
Bible says in the 15th Chapter of Exydos Honesty is 
the Best of Policies. 

" I Eemain your Obedient Servant, Sir, 

" Henry Brown." 

I asked the Superintendent of the convicts what 
was the crime committed by the interesting boy, who 
wished that his communication might find me where 
it left him — in the chain-gang, I suppose ; and I 
learned that he had stolen a pair of shoes, value about 
two shillings, for which he had been condemned to 
the rather disproportionate punishment of eleven 
months of hard labour, in company with confirmed 
robbers and murderers. The man added, that he had 
two or three other Jamaica men in the gang, — one 
of them for murder, — and if I could give them a 
trifle, it would be conferring a real boon upon them. 
Under these circumstances I complied with the " peti- 
tion;" and I believe the publicity which I gave to 
it procured the boy his freedom, for I afterwards found 
him carrying on the trade of shoe-black and " shoe- 
white," — I suppose that is the right term for a person 
who covers your canvas shoes with pipeclay. He had 
evidently a fancy for shoes. 

The reader, finding himself now in the midst of an 
abortive negro revolt, need not apprehend my ex- 


changing for a while the office of narrator for that of 
chorus of an antique tragedy by producing forthwith 
a leading article on a subject worn threadbare long 
before I left London by constant discussion of the Ja- 
maica outbreak. I have had my little say about it at 
St. James's Hall, was applauded for it by the crowded 
meeting — the largest anti-negro demonstration ever 
held in London, — and abused in company with the 
majority of the speakers by some of the newspapers, 
praised by others. Why should I by reiterating my 
views in this place put some of my readers in bad 
humour ? I will not do it, convinced as I am that all 
those who, like myself, have lived amongst the blacks, 
and are honest and bold enough to make known the 
sum of their experience, have but one opinion about 
them, viz. that the negroes will never be able to take 
a leading position, educate them as much as you may, 
and that therefore all attempts to place them on a foot- 
ing of equality with the white man must prove futile. 
The negro, the irrepressible negro, naturally formed 
the principal topic of conversation on board the 
mail steamer on my outward passage, and as nearly 
everybody connected with the West Indies had more 
or less suffered by the policy pursued towards these 
islands, the general tone was not free from bitterness. 
The effect of the Jamaica outbreak was just as might 
have been predicted by any one conversant with the 
negro character from personal observation. When the 
news of the steps Governor Eyre had adopted spread 
through the West Indies, nothing could exceed the 
good behaviour of the blacks. They were as obliging 


and respectful to the whites as could be wished ; but 
no sooner did they hear of the stir made by their 
friends in England, and the pressure they had brought 
to bear upon Government, than they resumed their 
wonted insolence. " Who is at present Governor of 
St. Thomas ?" I asked the boatman who put me on 
shore at that island, innocently expecting to hear his 
name. " He is a white man now, but he may soon be a 
black ;" was the significant reply. " There you see," 
said a military officer who was in the same boat with 
me, and had been in the West Indies before ; " there 
you have the effect of your leading articles, and your 
negrophilist meetings. If you stop long enough, you 
will have much to reflect upon, and be able to collect 
such answers as these by the hundred." 

"As I was riding out one afternoon," he continued, 
warming on the subject, "I found the road blocked 
up by negroes, and called out to them to make room 
for me to pass. One of them turned sharply round, 
and indignantly demanded i who de debil I was ?' 
It was the Queen's highway, and they had as much 
right to loiter as I had to ride upon it. I was not a 
whit better than a black man, and they would not stir 
an inch. I gave the fellow fair warning that unless 
he stood aside I would ride over him ; and as he took 
no notice of what I said, I had no option but to carry 
my threat into execution ; but, knowing that I should 
be fined £5 for the assault, I took a mean advantage 
of the opportunity by administering to the saucy fellow 
a fair castigation with a rhinoceros whip brought from 
the Cape of Good Hope." 


One of my fellow-passengers, an officer in her 
Majesty's service, gave me many curious details about 
negro life in the West Indies. He had been com- 
pelled to go home in order to recruit his health, which 
had been very much shattered by slow poison ad- 
ministered by his black cook, whom he had scolded 
for being dead drunk on the day of a dinner party. 
The officer found that after every luncheon (a meal 
which he always took by himself) he became sick ; he 
consulted his medical man, but never suspected any 
foul play on the part of the negro. However, one day 
mentioning the case to a friend, he heard to his sur- 
prise that the late mistress of the cook had suffered from 
similar symptoms, and finally died. The luncheon was 
analysed, but the chemists of Trinidad failed to detect 
any trace of poison. The case being sufficiently sus- 
picious, the poisoned man insisted that the cook should 
be dismissed by the messman, but, as he was considered 
to be the best cook in the island, his brother officers 
naturally objected to comply with the request, and they 
tried to argue that the sickness must have some other 
cause, as they themselves were never affected by any un- 
pleasant symptoms after partaking of their meals. To 
set the matter finally at rest, one of the other officers 
offered to partake of the luncheon, the cook not being 
made previously acquainted with the fact. No sooner, 
however, had he eaten of the luncheon than he too 
became very r sick ; and then there remained no doubts 
that poisoning had been attempted. 

" One would have thought facts like these," my in- 
formant added, " would have been sufficiently strong 


to warrant the apprehension of the cook ; and in most 
other countries they would, but in the West Indies 
it would have been perfectly useless to attempt to pro- 
secute the man. He would probably have been tried 
by a black, or two -thirds black, jury, and even in the 
face of much stronger evidence than could have been 
adduced, he would certainly have been acquitted.'' 

I remember a Jamaica magistrate, with whom I 
came home a few years ago, told me a similar story. 
His little daughter had been poisoned by a woman- 
cook, who took umbrage at his refusal to allow the 
cook's daughter to accompany the family when going 
out of town ; and, from other statements I could men- 
tion, I am inclined to believe that there is much secret 
poisoning going on wherever there is a mixed popu- 
lation of black and white. 

That the two races will ever live harmoniously to- 
gether on a footing of equality seems to me an Uto- 
pian idea. In all tropical countries the whites must 
naturally be in the minority ; and unless they can con- 
trive by some means or other to exist there in the 
capacity of masters, they must go to the wall. The 
upshot of every revolution throughout Spanish America 
and the West Indies has been to bring the black element 
more and more to the surface. At first the negroes 
and half-castes combine against the pure whites ; and 
whenever the latter have been driven from power 
and decimated, the blacks turn against the half-castes. 
This has been the result pre-eminently in Venezuela 
and St. Domingo, two magnificent countries, now sunk 
as low politically and socially as it is possible for any 
country to sink. 

Chap. L— B. S.] PANAMA RAILWAY. 11 

The West Indians are glad to observe that at least 
a portion of the English press correctly appreciates 
the true bearing of the negro question, though they 
add despondingly it is too late ; the mischief has been 
done ; our planters have been ruined ; our merchants 
have gone away ; capital will never flow back in our 
time ; we have been sacrificed to a sentiment ; and 
we, our children, and grandchildren have been im- 
poverished to prop up the absurd anthropological 
theory that the white and the black races are equal, a 
theory which nobody can maintain for a moment in 
the face of the facts he sees around him. 

Panama, since I visited it in 1848, has much im- 
proved, owing principally to- the railway from Colon, 
which connects the traffic of the Atlantic with that of 
the Pacific Ocean. A great part of this railway goes 
through swamps, and is a noble monument of Ame- 
rican enterprise. It is well known that but few of the 
natives could be induced to work on this great high- 
way of nations, and that labour had to be imported 
from other parts, principally China; and when the 
rank swamp vegetation came to be disturbed, fearful 
miasmas arose, and such was their pernicious effect 
upon the workmen that every foot of the road cost a 
human life. The Chinese coolies took a most despond- 
ing view of the task the Americans had set before 
them, and every morning dozens were found suspended 
on the trees, so that a guard had to be set over them 
to prevent their committing self-destruction during 
the night. But American energy finally triumphed 
over every obstacle, and they have now the best pay- 
ing railway in the world. 


It took four hours and a half to get across the 
isthmus, which to some of my fellow-passengers 
seemed long ; but not so to me, who had formerly 
spent four days in going over the same distance. At 
the various stations where the train stops there are 
very fine American houses, surrounded by nice flower- 
gardens and neat white fences, forming a singular 
contrast with the wretched huts of the native negroes, 
which are neither better nor worse than I have known 
them twenty years ago. Yet food is as abundant as 
ever, and wages are much higher. To me it was a 
great treat to revel once more amongst the vegetation 
of a country about which I wrote the first Flora. 
The palm-groves seemed to nod their feathery leaves 
in friendly recognition ; and many of the trees and 
shrubs which I introduced to Science seemed to be so 
many old friends, glad to see me again. 

When we arrived at Panama the first great im- 
provements that struck me were omnibuses and carts. 
As late as 1848 a cruise upon wheels in the isthmus 
would have been impossible, there being not even a 
wheelbarrow in the whole country. The introduction of 
these improvements led to others, one of these being the 
pulling down of the old "land gate," and part of the wall 
of the city, to allow the vehicles to come into Panama ; 
and one of the others, the making of a good carriage- 
road to the savanas, where you have the most lovely 
park-like scenery in the world, — beautiful short grass, 
capital for galloping upon, clumps of fine trees and 
shrubs, a gently -undulating ground, little rivulets 
and now and then glimpses of the city, the bay, and 


the islands. A lithogram published by Appleton, of 
New York, of which nearly all the copies were de- 
stroyed by fire, gives an excellent idea of these 
savanas and their vegetation ; and it is the only one I 
have seen that really does justice to the neighbourhood 
of Panama. Even such rough men as the buccaneers 
of old broke out in shouts of delight when, after toiling 
for days through the gloomy virgin forests of the 
isthmus, they at last reached the savanas, richly 
stocked with horses and cattle, and showing in the 
distance the wealthy city which they had come to 

There are now several good hotels in Panama, kept 
by foreigners, who seem to be making money. A 
great many houses have already passed into the hands 
of Americans, English, French, and Germans, and 
ere long the whole town will be owned by them ; 
the natives being too indolent to take advantage 
of the fine opportunities now presented of making 
their fortune or bettering their condition. As soon 
as a foreigner becomes possessed of town property 
he improves it ; and in walking through the streets 
you need not look for the name of the owner 
before you decide in your mind whose bouse it is. 
All the trade is virtually in the hands of foreigners, 
and some of the largest plantations in the country, 
as, for instance, the Bayano Sugar Estate, were es- 
tablished by them. Panama will go on increasing, 
and ere long its great advantages, and that of Central 
America in general, will be fully appreciated by 
commercial men. It is so central a spot for obtain- 


ing information and news, and carrying on trade 
with the East and the West, the North and the South, 
that, even with Nicaragua as a powerful rival, it must 
steadily rise. Even the Australian news which came 
in sailing vessels to the Chilian coast, and thence by 
steamer to Panama, was days in advance of that ob- 
tained by way of Europe. Now that a direct steam 
communication has been opened with New Zealand, 
the pace has been still more accelerated. There are 
about thirty ocean steamers calling during the month 
at the Isthmus, including the fine boats belonging to 
the Panama railroad company, and keeping up a regu- 
lar communication with the principal Central American 
ports. In these regions of calms and light winds, 
steamers are a great boon, which would be extended to 
all the minor ports, if the natives would only appreciate 
it. But several attempts made in that direction have 
proved failures. The objections of these people to steam 
navigation are truly characteristic of a race like the 
Spanish American, to whom time is not money. " How 
can you expect us to support such an imposition ?" a 
man from Chiriqui was heard to say. " A sailing vessel 
takes a week from our place to Panama. During the 
whole of that time we are supplied with meat and 
drink, and pay only twenty-eight dollars ; whilst the 
steamer goes over the same distance in less than a 
day, gives us but two meals at most, and charges us 
two dollars more. If you foreigners are silly enough 
to submit to such charges, do so ; we certainly shall 

The great topic of the hour at Panamd was the gold- 

Chap. I.— B. S.] MINES OF BAEBACOAS. 15 

mines of Barbacoas. The discovery of gold in Barbacoas 
— which is a place up the river Tumaco, on the west 
coast of South America, nearly under the Equator — had 
led to the influx of numerous diggers from California, 
a fine set of men, who, though belonging to different 
nationalities, had very much the same outward appear- 
ance ; so that when you have seen one you seem to have 
seen them all. Some of them were going to Barbacoas ; 
others returning thence. The latter did not believe the 
Californian papers, which warned them not to proceed 
to so unhealthy a climate as that of Barbacoas, because 
they thought the articles had been inserted by parties 
anxious to keep them in California. They confirmed the 
accounts of the unhealthy nature of the climate ; and 
this agreed well with what I myself remember about 
the Tumaco river, visited by me years ago. They said 
that the white men, from exposure, want of food, and 
climatic disadvantages, were dying like rotten sheep ; 
and that one-half of all the gold obtained was claimed 
by the owners of the soil. I could find only a single 
man who had made any large amount of money. One 
of the mines there in successful operation had produced 
four hundred pounds weight of gold since December, 
1865. The gold is of fine quality, and so is called 
" float" gold; that is, flat and thin. The general 
conviction was that the poor man, whose whole fortune 
consists in mining implements, would not be much 
bettered by going to Barbacoas; but that powerful 
companies might be able to turn the mineral wealth of 
the locality to good account. 

The war between Chili and Spain, and the disasters 


of the latter kingdom, also formed one of the topics of 
conversation at Panama. I asked the Chilian Admiral 
(who is an Englishman, and came out with me in the 
Eoyal Mail Steamer) why the Chilians did not try to 
get the greatest of American republics to help them. 
He thought it was no use trying, because a couple of 
years ago he was sent to Washington to get the per- 
mission of that Government for the purchase and export 
of two vessels, at that time contraband of war. Presi- 
dent Lincoln received him with his usual affability ; 
and while Seward was reading the Chilian state 
papers, Abraham Lincoln said, " Admiral, I must 
tell you a little story. When a young man I was 
very anxious to read a book which belonged to a 
neighbour of mine. l Neighbour,' I asked, 6 could 
you lend me this book ?' ' Certainly,' he replied, 
6 you can come here and read it whenever you like.' 
As the book was rather a bulky one, I thought this 
an odd way of lending it to me ; but I let that pass. 
Sometime afterwards he came to me: i Lincoln, 'he 
asked, ' could you lend me your bellows ?' ' Certainly,' 
I replied, ' here they are ; you can come here and blow 
away as much as you like.' And that is exactly the 
case with us ; Admiral, you can come here and blow 
away as much as you like, but we cannot let you take 
the ships away." 









You never pass a Spanish place, I fancy, without 
hearing one of two things. There are either rich 
mines in the immediate neighbourhood, merely requir- 
ing skill and capital to develope them, or there is 
a vast amount of treasure buried somewhere in the 
town, and only waiting to be discovered by somebody. 
Panama, with its numerous ruins and romantic history, 
has upon the latter theme many a good story to tell. 
Tradition can point out dozens of spots where some- 
thing worth having will turn up, if one digs long and 
deep enough. One of these, supposed to contain part of 
the property of the Society of Jesus, and buried on the 
sudden expulsion of the order from Spanish America, 
was not very long ago ransacked by a mysterious 
stranger. He took up his residence close to the old 


Jesuits' College, and there lived quietly for some time ; 
but one fine morning he was gone, and a large and 
deep hole had been dug in the very spot where tradi- 
tion insisted the Jesuits' treasure was buried. Who 
can tell how much or how little was removed ? That 
the Jesuits of Panama at the time of their expulsion 
were well off is evident from the ruins of their un- 
finished college, which occupy nearly a whole block 
of the city ; but they may have been able to find a 
much better hiding-place for their valuables than an 
unfinished building, where everybody could overlook 
them and watch their movements. 

Gossip of this kind is catching. As you cannot be 
many days in the East before you find yourself talking 
about magicians, so you cannot be many days at 
Panama before you at all events catch yourself listen- 
ing to stories of treasure-trove. And it is not only 
Spaniards, but also less imaginative Teutons, who be- 
lieve in and act on them. How many expeditions have 
there not been from Panama and elsewhere to the 
Cocos Island, for the purpose of recovering the trea- 
sure buried there by pirates ? I remember very well 
the men who more than twenty years ago made the 
first expedition thither. The prime mover of it was an 
English carpenter, whose ambition in life, as he often 
assured me when packing up my natural history spe- 
cimens, was to become a Fellow of the Royal Society, 
which was in his mind identical with life at Court ; 
and this ambition he thought might be gratified by 
spending a sufficiently large sum of money on science. 
Once, but only once, the object had been almost within 

Chap. II.— B. S.] TREASURE -TROVE. 19 

his grasp. He had been kind to an old countryman 
of his, and when the latter was about to die, he 
confided to him that he had been a pirate, that a large 
treasure was buried on the Cocos Island, a few hun- 
dred miles from Panama, and that on the map which 
he handed to him the exact spot was indicated. The 
old man was about to give further particulars when 
the carpenter, intoxicated with joy at the prospect of 
his sudden good fortune, rushed into the open air, 
capering about like a madman. When reason somewhat 
returned, he hastened back to the bedside, but the old 
pirate had gone to his account, and the details of his 
revelation were lost for ever. Nevertheless, the car- 
penter had no difficulty in persuading a Scotch watch- 
maker, a physician of the same nationality, and a 
couple of natives to accompany him to the Cocos Is- 
land. They collected as many provisions as they 
could, put them on board a large flat-bottomed canoe, 
and started. But they soon became aware that such 
a canoe could never make so long a sea voyage ; and, 
taking a leaf out of the book of the pirates whose 
ill-gotten gains they were about to search for, they 
put themselves alongside a schooner belonging to the 
New Granadan Government, and so frightened the men 
in charge that they willingly exchanged the schooner 
for the canoe. 

After many hardships and a lengthened passage, 
resulting from violent tropical squalls, long calms, 
and the almost total absence of nautical instruments, 
they reached the island, and found it uninhabited and 
densely covered with vegetation. The map had been 

C 2 


drawn on so small a scale that it indicated scarcely- 
more than the side of the island on which the treasure 
was said to be buried. The members of the expedition, 
nothing daunted, resolutely set to work for several 
months, digging and blasting ; but without finding a 
trace even of anything. At last their stock of provi- 
sions, eked out by eating shell-fish and cabbage-palm, 
became so low that it was deemed imperative to re- 
turn. At this conjuncture of affairs the carpenter had 
a dream, which for a few days gave a new direction to 
their efforts. His old friend appeared to him, candle 
in hand, and pointed out the exact spot where the 
treasure was buried. Though this was in altogether a 
different part of the island from that indicated in the 
map, several days were devoted to searching the new 
locality, but again without result. Just when about to 
embark, an American whale-ship hove in sight, and 
her captain took the whole of the adventurers pri- 
soners, on the charge of piracy. But the Scotch phy- 
sician convinced the captain that, the seizure of the 
schooner apart, the charge could not be sustained. 
Both parties were soon agreed that it would be a 
capital thing to obtain possession of the treasure ; and 
the captain, on condition that one-half of all the riches 
should belong to him, sent his crew on shore to assist 
in recovering them. Jack fully entered into the spirit 
of the search, and a prodigiously large piece of ground 
was overhauled ; but this new effort was as unsuc- 
cessful as the previous ones, and nothing was left for 
it but to turn their backs on the Cocos Island, and 
leave its treasure to more fortunate hunters. The 

Chap. II.— B. S.] AN OLD PIRATE. 21 

New Granadan schooner was quietly anchored in the 
Bay of Panama, a little the worse for wear and tear, 
and the company of adventurers dispersed for a while 
in different directions until the affair had blown over. 
The incident caused some sensation at the time, and 
was reported to our Foreign Office. I believe this was 
the reason why orders were sent out to the captain of 
H.M.S. ' Herald,' to which I was then attached as na- 
turalist, to look into the matter, and pay, if possible, 
a visit to the Cocos Island, — orders which were not 
carried out, because we had suddenly to go to the 
Arctic Eegion to look for the unfortunate Franklin. 

I well remember the disappointment on board when 
it became definitely known that we should be cheated 
out of this little bit of romance, which Pirn and I had 
particular reason to see enacted. In our youthful 
minds we connected it with a strange incident which 
happened to us whilst travelling together in the inte- 
rior of South America. We were enjoying the hospita- 
lity of a Scotchman — name and residence immaterial, — 
and a day before our departure, he had invited a number 
of people to supper. It was getting late, and the guests 
had departed ; but at his urgent request we sat up a 
little longer, mixing another tumblerful, and keeping 
up pleasant conversation. Suddenly our host became 
silent and thoughtful, and ere we could arrive at any 
conclusion as to the nature of the change all at once 
come over him, he jumped on his legs, and began 
to describe, in terms the most graphic, a scene on 
board ship, taken by pirates, the finding of treasure, 
the " walking of the plank," and other horrible de- 


tails, giving greater effect to his declamation by violent 
gesticulation. He wound up by describing the pirates 
disturbed by a man-of-war heaving in sight, the rovers 
rushing on board their own ship, making all sail, and 
wetting them to draw better. " You can't catch her," 
he exclaimed, accompanied by derisive laughs; "the 
little schooner is too fast for you ; we are safe." After 
uttering the words "we are safe" he fell back into 
his chair, apparently quite exhausted, and did not 
speak another word that night. I have seen much 
good acting, but never in my life anything equal to 
what I saw that night. It would have made the re- 
putation of any stage-player, if he could have repro- 
duced that scene before a critical audience. Naturally 
we thought that an overdose of wine had prompted 
our host to recite for our entertainment a scene from 
some old, to us unknown, play ; and we should have 
gone away with that opinion, complimenting him on 
his excellent recital but next morning, just at dawn, 
there was a knock at our bedroom door. To our sur- 
prise it was our host's wife, wishing to extract from 
us the promise not to mention to any one whilst her 
husband was alive the strange scene we had witnessed 
the night before. The man is long since dead ; but 
I still keep a present he made me when we were 
about to start. It was carefully made up in a parcel, 
which, when afterwards opened on the road, was 
found to contain a copy of ' The History of the Bucca- 
neers of America,' 8vo, London, 1699, in the binding 
of the period. The book had evidently been much 
used, and often shifted hands. One of the endorse- 

Chap. I.— B. S.] THE DIVINING-ROD. 23 

ments, in bold clear letters, was just 100 years old, 
and run thus : " Kobert Kawllings ; his book ; 1747." 

But to return to our mutton. People are now more 
than ever bent upon recoveringthe treasure supposed to 
have been buried in the Cocos Island, and of late years 
several companies have been formed in California for 
that special purpose. Could you believe it, that in this 
age of enlightenment — heaven save the mark ! — sharp- 
witted Californians have been employing a divining- 
rod, to find where the treasure is hid, and, after they 
had satisfied themselves by that means with regard to 
the spot, gone back to San Francisco to purchase ma- 
chinery for the purpose of turning the revelation to 
account? I was aware that amongst the gloomy pine- 
forests of the Harz Mountains the power of the magic 
branch was still believed in as fervently as the exist- 
ence of the wild huntsman ; but, under the bright 
sky of San Francisco, who would have expected to find 
such an anachronism ? If people are determined to 
sink money in this affair, it would be more sensible 
to act upon the dying confession of the old pirate, 
which has been reduced to writing, and of which, to my 
knowledge, two copies exist, one in London, the other 
in an island in the Bay of Panama. Here is a fine 
chance for opposition companies : the one would have 
a magical, the other an historical basis. 

The second morning after my arrival at Panama " I 
awoke and found myself famous." The local papers 
had announced in leaded type who I was, and what I 
had written about the isthmus. The honour was all 
the more appreciated by me as it induced several 


gentlemen to call on me. One of them was Captain 
Dow, of the steamer ' Guatemala,' well known to men 
of science as the discoverer of innumerable new animals 
and plants in these regions, and an active correspon- 
dent of the leading naturalists of the Old and New 
World. We had known each other for years, but 
never had the chance of meeting face to face until 
now. I can never help comparing those who live in the 
sultry tropics, and have nothing to occupy them but 
the common routine of everyday work, with those who 
are addicted, however limited the extent, to the pur- 
suit of some branch of science. How heavy time 
seems to hang upon them; they never appear to 
know what to do to get over the long hours that have 
necessarily to elapse between getting up and going to 
bed. This was brought home to me once more by 
being thrown in company with the gentleman just 
named. When not occupied professionally he was 
ever busy making some scientific observations, or col- 
lecting some rare specimens for his numerous corre- 
spondents. The Smithsonian Institution would be glad 
to know this, the German Academy that ; the British 
Museum would feel grateful for this specimen, and 
the Zoological Gardens in Eegent's Park were dying 
to get that ; and all these desiderata the enthusiastic 
Captain, regardless of trouble and expense, hastened 
to supply as fast as time and opportunity would 
allow. To many of the singular creatures flying, 
fluttering, swimming, and crawling about these coasts, 
naturalists have gratefully appended his name as dis- 
coverer, and it is mainly due to his representation 


that the Panama Kailroad Company, with praise- 
worthy liberality, offers a free pass to any distinguished 
man of science who may have occasion to avail him- 
self of their railway or their steamers, or send his 
collections by them. Show me a European commer- 
cial company that would do as much to assist scientific 
research as these Americans, whom we always taunt 
with their worship of the almighty dollar ! 

M. Zeltner, the French Consul at Panama, was 
another interesting personage whose acquaintance I 
had the pleasure of making. He was good enough to 
show me his valuable ethnological collection, which 
comprises many rare specimens from the ancient 
Indian tombs of Chiriqui, the extreme western district 
of the isthmus, of which he had published some beau- 
tiful photographs, with descriptive letterpress. Having 
been the first who drew pubHc attention to the Chiriqui 
antiquities, in a paper read by me at London before the 
Archaeological Institute in 1851, 1 naturally felt deeply 
interested in M. Zeltner's collections and labours. 
There is a great deal yet to be discovered in Chiriqui ; 
and the resemblance, maybe identity, of inscriptions 
found on ancient British rocks with those of that 
district may perhaps tempt some enterprising anthro- 
pological inquirers to explore thoroughly that almost 
virgin ground. However, in order to understand the 
full importance of the subject a few words are needed 
in explanation. 

Mr. George Tate, of Alnwick, recently published a 
work on < The Ancient British Sculptured Bocks of 
Northumberland and the Eastern Borders, with Notes 



of the Eemains associated with . these Sculptures/ 
illustrated by lithograms. This is one of the most com- 
prehensive, as it is one of the most valuable, accounts as 
yet written on these incised stones, the first specimens 
of which were brought to light nearly half a century 
ago, by Mr. J. C. Langlands, near the great camp on 
Old Bewick Hill, in North Northumberland, and addi- 
tions to which have been made, in various other parts, 
by other zealous antiquarians, including the author of 
the just-mentioned publication. These inscriptions 
are held to be of great antiquity, and to have been 
the work of tribes who occupied the British islands 
long before the Eoman invasion. The notion that 
they originated with the Boman soldiers, trying to 
pass away the dull hours of camp life, being entirely 
opposed to the fact that no Boman characters of any 
kind occur among them, and that they are found 
in parts of these islands never trodden by the foot of 
the Boman conqueror. The geographical distribu- 
tion of these rocks is interesting. In Northumber- 
land, where they abound, they do not occur on the 
Cheviots or their flanks ; and this has been held to 
be a negative proof that these inscriptions were made 
by a people ignorant of the use of metallic tools, who 
could not produce any impression on the porphyry of 
the Cheviots by their stone tools, when they easily 
effected it on the sandstone of the Northumbrian 
moorlands. In all, fifty-three sculptured stones have 
been observed in Northumberland, on which three 
hundred and fifty figures are inscribed. All of them 
are more or less connected with ancient British re- 

Chap. II.— B. 8.] SCULPTURED ROCKS. 27 

mains. Their relation, however, to the camps, forts, 
and hut-circles — the dwellings of the ancient British 
people — is more apparent than to their sepulchres. 
Stones with similar or absolutely identical inscriptions 
have been found in Ayrshire, Yorkshire, Scotland, 
the Orkneys, and Ireland ; but, curiously enough, none 
have been discovered in Europe beyond the limits of 
the British islands. In Brittany, where so many 
Druidical remains have been preserved, and where we 
might expect to meet with the concentric rings so fre- 
quently repeated in the Northumbrian and other 
ancient British rocks, we search in vain for them. 
Some sculptures on the rock-temples of Malta, referred 
to prehistoric ages, are circinate lines, which may have 
some reference to serpent-worship, and, like some 
rude figures of eggs, may be due to Phoenician work- 
men. Nor can any connection be established between 
our British rock-sculptures and certain Egyptian 
hieroglyphics. In fact, we search in vain throughout 
the whole eastern hemisphere for the least approach 
to the rude but characteristic figures inscribed on the 
British rocks. 

It is, therefore, all the more singular that, thou- 
sands of miles away, in a remote corner of tropical 
America, we should find the concentric rings and 
several other characters typically identical with those 
engraved on the British rocks. I discovered them 
near the town of David, in Chiriqui, in the spring of 
1848, and, as already stated, read a paper on the sub- 
ject before the Archaeological Institute, shortly after 
my return to London in 1851. A brief accouut of it 



Fig. I. represents two radiant suns, — a, the American, b> the British 
character ; in Chiriqui this character has been found but once, nor 
does it occur oftener amongst the published British figures. 

Pig. II. a, the American ; b, the corresponding British figure, showing 
several grooves radiating from an outer arch, and bearing some re- 
semblance to what is termed the "Ogham characters" by British 

Fig. III. a, the American ; b, the corresponding British figure, showing 
the completely closed concentric circles. 

Fig. IV. a, the American ; b, the corresponding British figure, showing 
how the various characters (symbols) were connected by lines. 

Fig. V. a, the American ; 6, the corresponding British figure, showing 
the groove or outlet of the circle. 



was given in my ' Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. 
Herald,' vol. i. p. 312, London, 8vo, 1853, but the 
drawings illustrating them were unfortunately omitted, 
the publisher objecting to them on account of the 
expense ; but some of them were afterwards placed by 
me at the disposal of Mr. Bollaert, and published by 
that gentleman in his ' Antiquities, etc., of South 
America,' 8vo, London, 1860, whilst others have been, 
it is feared, entirely lost, especially those which would 
have established the identity of the British and 
Chiriqui inscriptions beyond doubt in the minds of 
others. For my own part, I was so much struck with 
the general resemblance, not to say identity of the 
two, that when the plates of Mr. Tate's work were 
first shown to me, and I was quite ignorant to what 
country they related, I fully believed them to repre- 
sent Chiriqui rock inscriptions. Even from the draw- 
ings I still retain of a Chiriqui rock I am able to pick 
out some of the most typical characters found on the 
British rocks, as the accompanying diagrams will show. 
The characters in Chiriqui are, like those of Great 
Britain, incised on large stones, the surface of which 
has not previously undergone any smoothing process. 
The incised stones occur in a district of Yeraguas 
(Chiriqui or Alanje), which is now thinly inhabited, 
but which, judging from the numerous tombs, was 
once densely peopled by a nation which became 
known to Columbus in his fourth voyage of discovery, 
manufactured some elegantly-shaped pottery, wore 
ornaments made of gold of a low standard, called 
quanin (most probably a natural alloy of gold and 


copper), and buried their dead in stone cists, accom- 
panied by their weapons, ornaments, pottery, and other 
household articles.* 

From information received during my two visits to 
Chiriqui, and from what has been published since I 
first drew attention to this subject, I am led to be- 
lieve that there are a great many inscribed rocks in 
that district.*)* But I myself have seen only one, the 
now famous piedra pintal (i.e. painted stone), which 

* This very same people, supposed to have been the Dorachos or 
Dorazques, had also made considerable progress in sculpturing co- 
lumns, and placing on them raised characters, fceveral of these co- 
lumns, about ten to twelve feet long, were knocking about the streets 
of David, the capital of Alanje, or Chiriqui, during my visit in 1848, 
and numbers are said to occur on Muertro, and other places. Raised 
characters require, of course, more artistic skill than incised ones, and 
hence denote a higher degree of civilization. If, therefore, the people 
who readily engraved their thoughts on the piedra pintal, and other 
stones of which it is the type, are assumed to have been the same 
as those who expressed them in raised characters on the columns of 
which I saw specimens at David, a long period must have elapsed 
before tools could be brought to such perfection as to allow the em- 
ployment of inscriptions in relief. But there is no identity of, or even 
distant resemblance between, the incised and raised characters, and 
we need, therefore, not trouble ourselves any further about this point. 
The identity of the two being abandoned, it may just be worth while 
to consider the possibility of their being executed by contemporaries. 
In highly civilized countries, such as ancient India, Egypt, and modern 
Europe, different modes of expressing thought have been and are prac- 
tised ; but the most advanced people who ever inhabited Chiriqui had 
not attained so high a degree of civilization as would justify us in 
assuming that they resorted to two entirely different systems of record- 
ing their ideas. It is, therefore, scarcely possible to escape the con- 
clusion that the incised characters were by a different, less civilized 
and more ancient race than the characters in relief. 

f See Bollaert, ' Ancient Tombs of Chiriqui,' in Journ. Ethnol. Soc, 
vol. ii. pp. 151, 159. 

Chap. II.— B. S.] A BOLD THEORY. 31 

is found on a plain at Caldera, a few leagues from 
the town of David. It is fifteen feet high, nearly 
fifty feet in circumference, and rather flat on the top. 
Every part, especially the eastern side, is covered 
with incised characters ahout an inch or half an inch 
deep. The first figure on the left-hand side represents 
a radiant sun, followed by a series of heads, or what 
appear to be heads, all with some variation. It is 
these heads, particularly the appendages (perhaps in- 
tended for hair ?), which show a certain resemblance 
to one of the most curious characters found on the 
British rocks (^.g. ii., h), and calling to mind the so- 
called " Ogham characters." These " heads" are 
succeeded by scorpion-like, or branched, and other 
fantastic figures. The top of the stones, and the 
other sides, are covered with a great number of con- 
centric rings and ovals, crossed by lines. It is espe- 
cially these which bear so striking a resemblance to 
the Northumbrian characters. 

Symmetry being the first aim of barbarous nations 
in their attempt at ornamentation, I have always 
rejected the idea that these figures are intended for 
mere ornament, and have taken them to be symbols 
full of meaning, and recording ideas held to be of 
vital importance to the people who used them, and 
whose very name has become a matter of doubt. 
However, to speculate on their meaning must be 
labour thrown away, until we shall have become ac- 
quainted with all the inscriptions, of which those on 
the piedra pintal are specimens. 

At present we can hardly say more than that there 


is a remarkable family likeness, if nothing more, 
between the ancient British and Chiriqui inscriptions, 
— a relationship entirely unsuspected by me until Mr. 
Tate's remarkable work fell into my hands. Could 
an identity between these rocks, so widely separated 
geographically, be established, we should be in a po- 
sition to indulge in legitimate speculation. "We should 
have to concede — I say it without hesitation — that, 
in prehistoric times, an intercourse existed between 
the British Islands and Central America ; that this 
intercourse could not be maintained by the small 
crafts which so rude a civilization could send across 
the wide Atlantic Ocean ; that a land communication 
was absolutely necessary to ensure such an intercourse ; 
that it could not have been carried on by way of Asia 
without leaving numerous traces behind ; that no such 
traces have been found; and that, consequently, it 
must have taken place when the island of Atlantis — 
in the hands of modern science no longer an Egyptian 
myth* — was so intimately connecting Europe and 
America that the woods, which then covered Europe, 
were identical in character with those still existing in 
the southern parts of North America. But before 
science can concede conclusions of these, or similar 
speculations, we want more facts, which, it is hoped, 
may be forthcoming now that it has been shown what 
great interest attaches to them. 

* Compare Unger's ' Sunken Island of Atlantis,' an English trans- 
lation of which has been published in Seemann's ' Journal of Botany,' 
vol. iii. p. 12, and a Spanish by Mr. A. Ernst at Caracas. 







On the 28th of March, 1866, I embarked on board 
the ' Guatemala,' a fine steamer belonging to the Pa- 
nama Eailroad Company, and one of those employed 
in keeping up a bi-monthly communication between 
the Isthmus and the Pacific ports of the Central 
American Eepublics. It is impossible not to be struck 
with the comfort, cleanliness, neatness, and even 
elegance, of these steamers ; and I could not but 
congratulate Captain Dow on the admirable state in 
which everything on board was kept. It was evident 
that Captain Dow's scientific leaning did not interfere 
prejudicially with his professional duties ; on the con- 
trary, he seemed to have so far taken a leaf out of 
nature's book as to do everything well and at the proper 
time and season. How I did enjoy myself the few days 



I was on board of this beautiful steamer ! There were 
all kinds of good books and periodicals, and an airy 
" hurricane deck " to sit under, and read or chat with 
the other passengers, who happened to be extremely 
agreeable. Several of them were American; and, 
fortunately, I have a knack of getting on very well 
with them, simply because I never, under any circum- 
stances, tread upon their rather tender national corns. 

After leaving Panama we called at Punta Arenas, 
the principal port of Costa Eica, on the Pacific, where 
one finds a rather dangerous entrance to the inner 
harbour, a good lighthouse, an abundance of oysters, 
a large supply of coffee for exportation, and, as the 
name of the place indicates, plenty of sand. Landing 
with the mails, I availed myself of the opportunity to 
see the post-office and get some Costa Eica stamps, 
which a stamp -collecting maniac told me were the 
prettiest things out. The mails were delivered in due 
form ; but, after that, the bags were emptied on the 
floor, and every one had his pick, and a pick for the 
persons he said he represented. I saw a similar scram- 
ble at Corinto, our next port, where the principal post- 
man, who was going to take the mail to the interior, 
could not even read, and had to get others to spell out 
the directions for him. People may well complain 
about letters being lost in places like these, where 
newspapers seem to be regarded as public property, 
and illustrated journals scarcely ever reach their right- 
ful owners. 

I heard with regret that the expedition up the Eio 
Frio, a pet project of my friend Captain Pirn, organized, 


Chap. III.— B. S.] MODERN SIRENS. 35 

at his suggestion, by two young Englishmen for the 
purpose of gaining some knowledge of a hostile tribe 
of Indians, could not start, because their companions, 
fearing a repetition of the sad fate that had befallen 
previous expeditions, refused to go. 

Those who believe in Sirens, and who that has gone 
through the classics would be bold enough to say he 
does not, may be glad to learn that the ancient mari- 
ners were not the only ones favoured by their song. 
All along the West Coast of Central America there 
are localities, where, during calm weather, sweet musical 
sounds are heard, not unlike those produced by JEo- 
lian harps, and proceeding from the depths of the 
ocean. New-comers fancy that these strains, now 
almost inaudible, now becoming louder and more dis- 
tinct, are snatches of tunes played by some band on 
shore, and wafted along by the wind. The natives, 
however, know better than to delude themselves by 
thinking that distance would ever lend such charms to 
the noises which they made with their musical instru- 
ments as ever to be mistaken for the sounds here 
spoken of; and, rather than shine in borrowed plumes, 
ascribe them to the agency of a fish. Some scientific 
men, with whom I have conversed about this pheno- 
menon, hold that it is due to electricity ; whilst, 
again, others think, — 

" 'Tis but the rolling wave, 
Ever its lone course winging over some ocean cave ;" 

and in the opinion that " 'tis but the noise of water " 
on oceanic caves in this volcanic region, I am inclined to 

D 2 


concur. If the Spanish-speaking people were as good 
poets as they are rhymesters, they would not have 
allowed these sounds to exist on their shores without 
having clothed them in some poetic garb, instead of 
throwing a wet blanket on our nascent fancy by as- 
cribing them to a cold, wet, and slippery fish. The 
South Sea Islanders would have had innumerable 
stories about them, the Germans contrived to shape 
them into nursery tales for the rising generations of 
all nations, and the ancient Greeks preserved them in 
those classical, imperishable forms, which will be the 
admiration of mankind as long as its sense of the 
beautiful shall endure. 

Disembarking at Corinto, the principal port of Ni- 
caragua on the Pacific, I made inquiries as to the 
best way to Leon, and found that I should have to go 
by boat up an arm of the sea, land at a place called 
Embarquito, and proceed by mule to my destination. 
Corinto figures in most maps and geographical books 
under the name of Eealejo. But Eealejo, like Em- 
barquito, is merely an arm of the sea of the Port of 
Corinto. In fact Corinto is the genus, whilst Embar- 
quito and Eealejo are the species, — an Act of Congress 
is my authority. Neither of the two last-named places 
can be approached by vessels of any size, as used to be 
the case with Eealejo before it was silted up. At the 
meetings of the Eoyal Geographical Society, some slur 
has been attempted to be cast upon this fine natural 
harbour; but I may state in parenthesis, that in 1856 
and 1859 my old friend and shipmate Captain Hull, 
E.K, took H.M.S. Havanah, a sailing frigate of 21 

Chap. III.— B. S.] CORINTO. 37 

guns, drawing nineteen feet of water, into Corinto, 
and anchored her off the Custom House. The town 
of Corinto is built on a large island, the greater part 
of which is covered with mangroves, and other littoral 
vegetation, the hotbeds of mosquitoes and sandflies. 
There are a few good houses, but most of the buildings 
are mere huts, inhabited by negroes and half-castes. 
There was only one inn at the place then (there are two 
now), which from its peculiar shape, the foreigners 
had nick-named " Hotel Haystack," a long, low, barn- 
like building, with one large room in the centre, with- 
out windows, and on one side little dark cabins, each 
with a bed in, and scarcely large enough to turn one- 
self round. Everything was dusty, close, and gloomy, 
contrasting unfavourably with the clean, airy, and 
cheerful steamer just left. The best part of the 
whole inn was the bar, which was richly stored with 
all kinds of liquor, and seemed to be conducted on 
American principles. The dinner was a good one for 
the country, though I did not think so at the time, 
spoilt as we Europeans are in that respect ; and if it 
had not been for a dish of cabbage-palm, which I ate 
as a botanical curiosity, and the civility of the land- 
lord, whom I did not like to offend, I do not think I 
could have tasted anything. 

Here I met Captain Cauty, an Englishman, who had 
been many years in different parts of Central America, 
had been rash enough to mix himself up with the 
politics of the country (which no sensible foreigner 
should do), and had lost his little all when the party 
whose interests he advocated was driven from power. 


He was a man full of intelligence, and I was glad to 
avail myself of his land offer to allow me to go to 
Embarquito in his boat. We started that very night 
when the tide suited, and hoped to have the benefit 
of the full moon, but in that we were disappointed, 
as there happened to be a total eclipse, of which no- 
body had thought. However, we reached Embarquito 
about two o'clock in the morning, and were glad to 
get a hot cup of coffee, for even in this tropical climate 
we felt quite chilled through. Half an hour after- 
wards we mounted our mules, and rode as hard as we 
could in order to get to Leon before daybreak. The 
eclipse being now past, the road was easily followed, 
when not overshaded by trees. It was a beautiful 
night, and the stillness was only broken now and then 
by the creaking of carts, which slowly crawled either 
from or towards the port, raising clouds of dust, and 
the voices of the drivers uttering oaths and curses to 
make the bullocks proceed. The construction of these 
carts is most primitive, and probably dates from 
Anno I. There are only two huge wheels, cut out of 
the solid tree. One meets a goodly number of them 
between Leon and Granada, and they generally travel 
during the night when the air is cool, and the bullocks 
draw better than during the hot parts of the day. 

We reached Leon at seven o'clock in the morning, 
rather tired, and found the street thickly strewn with 
roses, frangipanis (Plumierias), oleanders, and other 
scented flowers, the remnants of recent religious pro- 
cessions. I put up at the European Hotel, kept by 
Captain Cauty, and one of the few good houses of 

Chap. III.— B. S.] CITY OF LEON. 39 

entertainment in Nicaragua. There I found Mr. John 
Holman, a Cornish mining captain of great experience, 
who had been engaged by the Central American Asso- 
ciation to accompany me on my journey through the 
country, and who went out by the previous mail- 
steamer to get things ready for an early start, for it 
being the fag end of the dry season, there was but 
little time to spare. Our chief object was to explore 
the little-known districts of New Segovia and Mata- 
galpa, for the purpose of ascertaining the value of 
their mines. 

Leon is one of the thousands of fine cities built by 
the old Spaniards in tropical America, and one which 
has suffered severely in the civil wars which have 
devastated the country. There are whole acres of 
houses in ruins. The cathedral is a fine old building, 
in the Italian style, which, though it has to forego 
the most necessary repairs, will yet stand for ages to 
come. From the top you have, especially at sunset, a 
most beautiful view of the plain of Leon and the 
mountain ranges and volcanoes encircling it. During 
my visit these volcanoes looked very quiet and inoffen- 
sive ; but whilst these sheets are going through the- 
press, information has been received that they have 
discarded their inactivity for a while. The details are 
thus stated in the correspondence of the ' Panama Star 
and Herald :' — 

" In Nicaragua one of those not very uncommon 
phenomena in Central America has presented itself to 
rouse the superstitious fears of the ignorant, and ex- 
cite the interest of the more intelligent of the inhabi- 


tants of the city of Leon. On the afternoon of the 
14th of December, 1867, the people in that city were 
startled by the sudden and almost simultaneous 
breaking out of a number of volcanic vents on the 
western or Pacific slope near the base of the long- 
extinct twin volcanic of Eota, the middle one of the 
chain of volcanic cones which follow each other in 
close succession from the northern extremity of the 
Lake of Managua to the Yiejo, the most prominent 
volcano of either, and a landmark for strangers de- 
siring to enter the Port of Corinto. The first intima- 
tion of the eruption to the inhabitants of Leon (only 
ten miles distant in a direct line from the scene of the 
eruption) was a low, rumbling sound, like distant thun- 
der, shortly followed by quick, sharp, and continuous 
reports, resembling the roar of a not-far-distant bat- 
tery of heavy artillery ; these reports and subsequent 
ones were distinctly audible on still nights at the Port 
of Corinto. On the night of the 14th of December 
there was revealed a sight which but few people ever 
witnessed. Two large volcanic fires, with several 
smaller ones scattered about on the plain, shed their 
lights on the surrounding country, and even lit up 
with a warm glow the towers of the Leon cathedral. 
Thus far the eruptive matter consists only of large 
masses of molten lava, scoria, and ashes, unaccompa- 
nied by any lava stream. The latest information 
states, that a cone of about twenty feet of elevation 
had been formed round the principal orifice, but 
whether caused by upheaval or by the deposition of 
scoria and ashes was not stated." Thus far the news- 

Chap. III.— B. S.] DUST AND DULNESS. 41 

The houses of Leon *are nearly all but one story 
high, and built of sun-dried bricks, or adobes, and 
somewhat in the Moorish style, there being a large 
square yard, in the centre of the houses, surrounded by 
a broad verandah, on to which all the rooms open out. 
There are no glazed windows, but merely iron bars, 
and wooden shutters inside, which are generally closed 
in the middle of the day to keep out heat and dust. 
For seven or eight months of the year the dust is a 
terrible nuisance, tremendous clouds of it being raised 
as soon as the wind sets in about nine o'clock in the 
morning, and densely covering everything inside the 
houses. The yards, or pateos, are, in some instances, 
neatly kept as gardens, where one finds a few plan- 
tain, orange, pomegranate, soursop, and mango-trees, 
as well as roses, cockscombs, gomphrenes, frangipanis, 
jessamines, and Polianthes tuberosa ; highly -scented 
flowers seeming to be those most cultivated. During 
the dry season these plants require constant irrigation, 
the water being obtained from deep wells, of which 
there is generally one in every yard ; but this water 
is not thought to be fit to drink, river-water being 
used for that purpose, and this is carried on the heads 
of women to every house, at a ten times greater an- 
nual expense than we incur for our copious supplies 
in London. 

Leon is an extremely dull place, as far as amuse- 
ments are concerned. The men who can afford it keep 
a horse or a mule, and take a ride early in the morn- 
ing, or after four o'clock in the afternoon, showing off 
their horsemanship and fancy saddlery ; but as the 


country round is cither very^dusty in the dry season, 
or very muddy in the wet, I could never bring myself 
to look upon these rides as anything else than a duty 
which one owes his constitution. The moneyed classes 
are fond of indulging in " monte " and similar kinds 
of gambling, and the poorer frequent certain licensed 
places for playing lotto, which on week-days are open 
at night only, but on Sundays at earlier hours. The 
cockpit, to which I was induced to pay a visit, is also 
a great source of attraction, and frequented by both 
rich and poor. The cocks were furnished with very 
sharp knives at the spurs, and cut each other to pieces 
in a moment, so that the real strength of the respec- 
tive combatants never could be fairly tried. There 
was a great deal of heavy betting going on, and at 
the termination of every fight much confusion, but 
little heed being taken of the repeated ringing of the 
umpire's bell. I felt quite ashamed to find myself in 
this place, never having entered a cockpit before, and 
vowed there and then, — as I did at my first and last 
bull-fight, — that I would never be present again at 
such a brutalizing amusement. A few soldiers with 
muskets were standing outside to preserve order, 
and see that nobody entered without paying ; the 
money taken at the doors going towards defraying the 
government tax, rent of the place, umpires' fees, 
etc. If you enter with boots on, you have to pay 
a much larger sum than when you take your boots 
off, not because the place is so nicely carpeted that 
it would suffer by the tread of them, — far from it, 
there being only the bare ground, — but because the 


Mcaraguans,* although*they talk much about social 
equality, are divided into two distinct classes — the 
barefooted and the shoe -wearing. The former are 
the lower class ; and though some of them are very 
well off, they always go barefoot, or at the utmost 
wear sandals only. Nothing can induce them to put 
on shoes. They say that their friends would laugh 
at them, and banter them about wishing to pass off 
as gentlefolks. The shoed class — though they may be 
as poor as church-mice, and as black as coal — regard 
themselves as the upper ten thousand, and look down 
upon the shoeless multitude with patronizing contempt. 
It is this class which here, as in all Central America, 
furnishes the political agitators and revolutionists. If 
the country was rid of them, real progress would be 
possible, as the lower classes are peaceably inclined, 
and, considering that they eat nothing but maize 
cakes, a few beans and dried meat, and live in a warm 
climate, work as hard as can reasonably be expected. 
The moral of it is, that if you go to a Mcaraguan 
cockpit, or any other place where you have to pay 
for admission, take off your boots, and confess your- 
self not to belong to the upper ten, and then you will 
not have to put your hand in your pocket quite so 
deeply as you otherwise would. 

You must also, if you wish to be thought some- 
body, not wear white clothes, as we who have lived in 
other parts of the tropics are so fond of doing, but 

* With the exception of several Indian tribes, a mixed race, negro 
and Indian blood predominating over the Caucasian, and purely white 
men being almost as rare as black are in London. 


dress in dark colours, — if jfcssible, winter pattern. 
The reason is an historical one. White, during the 
times of the Spanish dominion, — tyranny, in republi- 
can parlance, when all these countries were better off 
than they ever have been or ever will be again, so 
long as the present institutions last, — was the colour 
of the slaves, and though slavery, thank God, has 
long been abolished, the Mcaraguans cannot, as yet, 
quite forget that little fact ; and hence you wonder, 
on your first entering the country, why the upper 
classes should dress in materials and colours quite un- 
suited to such a climate. The dress which the men 
of the lower classes wear seemed to me always a 
most sensible and becoming one. It consists of a 
white shirt and trousers, a red scarf around the waist, 
and a broad-brimmed straw-hat. The women of both 
classes dress as ridiculously here as in most other 
parts of the world, at one time keeping one at arms 
length by their iron-hoops and other strange contri- 
vances with outlandish names, at others, raising 
clouds of dust by dragging their trains along the 

Captain Holman, on passing Managua, had seen 
General Martinez, the President of the Eepublic, who 
had sent a letter to the Prefect of Leon, strongly re- 
commending him to assist us in procuring the neces- 
sary beasts and muleteers. "We found the prefect, 
who is of French extraction, extremely obliging, and, 
at his recommendation, took into our service a man 
named Cleto Herrera, a half-caste, — Indian and negro, 
— who knew the country well, having been a soldier, 


and traversed it repeatedly during some of the revolu- 
tionary struggles. He was willing, and had great 
powers of endurance, preferring walking to riding, 
and, I believe, thoroughly honest. He knew that I 
had on various times large sums of money with me, — 
sums that would have kept him in a state of inde- 
pendence for life, — and he had more than one oppor- 
tunity to run away with them, fully knowing that I 
could not follow him to the wilds he might escape 
to ; but he never made the slightest attempt to betray 
my trust; and yet he was a native of Leon, and 
ITicaraguans generally say of that place, — 

" En Leon, 
Cada casa nn ladron." 

There is a thief in every house ; instead of a skeleton, 
as with us. 

In the woods of the neighbourhood of Leon we 
frequently perceived a most offensive, carrion-like 
smell, which at first was thought to come from some 
dead animal matter, but was speedily traced to the 
flowers of a middle-sized tree, in habit not unlike the 
Caoutchouc (Casiilloa elastica, Cerv.). This tree our 
men called "Palanca," its wood being used, amongst 
other things, for levers or palancas. The leaves were 
oblong, and velvety, and from the growing branches 
developed flowers not unlike in shape and size those 
of tulips. The most remarkable thing was that these 
flowers on first opening were quite green, and free from 
smell, but they gradually changed into a dark purple, 
almost black, and then emitted a most powerful smell, 
quite as, or rather more disagreeable, than that of some 


Stapclias, Arislolochias, and firoidecc, and, in a less 
degree, the fruit of St. John's Bread. It is strange 
that this carrion-like smell in plants should in so 
many cases accompany a dark brown or dark blue 
colour, and it would be worth while to endeavour to 
ascertain the chemical principle here at work. At 
the base of each of the six petals, the Palanca has a 
gland, and I fancied that the smell principally pro- 
ceeded from its secretions. To my delight I found 
that the plant constituted a new genus of Anonacece, 
distinguished by having the largest known petals of 
the Natural Order to which it belongs. Afterwards I 
met with it in abundance between Leon and Granada, 
and collected good specimens of it for our herbaria. 
At the suggestion of Mr. J. J. Bennett, F.B.S., of the 
British Museum, I gave it the name of Sapranthus 
Nicaraguensis* I am sorry to add, however, that my 
travelling companions who afterwards saw me busy 
myself with the plant would not adopt this correctly- 
formed and expressive Greek name, but insisted upon 
dubbing it " Stinkadora." 

We have heard lately much about mimicry in na- 
ture, where certain features of one species reappear in 
another not in any way related to it, as, for instance, 
in the pineapple, where the fruit bears a striking ex- 
ternal resemblance to a pine-cone ; certain spiny Eu- 
phorbias, where the stem has the look predominating 
in the cactus tribe, or in the iron or beef-woods (Ca- 
suarinas), where the branches are singularly like our 
horsetails, or Equisetums. On the Nicaraguan rivers 
* Seemann's 'Journal of Botany,' vol. iv. p. 369, t. 54. 


I met several curious instances of this ; some plants 
belonging to what Humboldt has aptly termed the 
willow form. There were genuine willows, which the 
country-people termed " Sauce," the fresh green of 
which afforded a pleasing relief to the eye after gazing 
so long on dried-up or leafless vegetation; but with 
them grew not only the feathery bamboo, and the beau- 
tiful Lindenia rivalis (both good instances of the willow 
form), but also a yellow-flowering Bignoniacea (Astian- 
thus longifolius, D. Don), often forty feet high, and a 
tall Composite the latter two both known by the 
Quichuan name of " Chilca." All these plants, un- 
affected by the periodical rising of the water and the 
turbulence of the stream, not only had the same 
foliage, habit, and mode of growth, as genuine wil- 
lows have, but served the same purposes in nature's 
economy, viz. protecting and keeping together the river 
banks. In the Viti Islands* and many other parts 
of the world I observed similar instances of the pre- 
dominance of the willow form on rivers ; the question 
then as now naturally presented itself, — what possible 
connection can there be between the two ? Do these 
plants grow on rivers because they have willow-leaves, 
or do they have willow-leaves because they grow on 
rivers ? This is, in fact, the old question over again — 
Does the duck swim because it has webbed feet, or has 
it webbed feet, because it swims ? 

Having purchased mules, hammocks, provisions, 

* The plants I observed in Viti were Lindenia Vitiensis, AcalypJta 
rivularis, Ficus bambusafolia, two species of Bamboos, — all belonging 
to different Natural Orders, yet all having willow-leaves. 


and all the other requisites for travelling in a semi- 
barbarous country, we were ready for starting; and 
on the 4th of April, just when the morning star had 
announced that dawn of day was nigh, two solitary 
horsemen on muleback might have been seen slowly 
wending their way through the suburbs of Leon, and 
their cactus and pine-apple fences. It was yet too 
dark to distinguish their expression of countenance, 
but judging from their conversation, and the snatches 
of tunes one of them was whistling, they were evidently 
pleased. Whether pleased because they had at last 
escaped the dust and dullness of the city; whether 
because they considered themselves now fairly started 
on their journey, or whether because they had some 
other cause for rejoicing, — all this, and a great deal 
more, will be learnt from the following pages. 







" Ton drinking here beasts pay half a real apiece, 
Christians nothing," said a man who was sitting at 
a well in the shade of a huge mimosa- tree. "We had 
travelled several leagues over a hot and dusty road, 
where not a drop of water was met with ; and now, 
when there was a chance of quenching our thirst, we 
found that conscientiously we could not be classed 
amongst the customers whom the man was ready to 
accommodate. To get a good drink from a well one 
hundred and two varas deep for nothing we should 
have to pass ourselves off as " Christians " — Chris- 
tians, be it remembered, in the Mcaraguan accepta- 
tion of the word, equivalent to Koman Catholics. In 
this part of the world no Protestant is popularly sup- 
posed to be a Christian, or to have even been bap- 



tized. Men fond of theological discussion would have 
thought this a fair opportunity to wrangle with this 
drawer of water about the right of private judgment, 
and other cardinal points of our national faith ; but I 
was so thirsty that I thought much more of the de- 
licious coolness of the water than the fact that I was 
obtaining it in a false character. 

The place where this well was is called Hacienda 
de la Seivita, and belongs to one Louis Balteson, 
who seems to make a good deal of money by selling 
water to passing travellers, as during the dry sea- 
son none is to be found for many miles around. 
"We had some milk, eggs, cheese, and corn-cakes for 
breakfast, and then started without delay. The road 
continued to be very dusty, the clumsy bullock-carts 
of the country raising perfect clouds. Towards five 
o'clock we reached a place called Valle de Zapata, 
a mere collection of huts, where a little Indian corn and 
cotton was grown, the latter being the mossy-seeded 
variety. The people were much disappointed that 
the cotton prices had gone down so much, and thought 
it a hard case that the United States should have dis- 
continued their fratricidal war just at a time when 
Nicaragua was getting ready to send a few hundred 
bales of cotton to the Liverpool market. Cotton cul- 
tivation in this country has not been successful, in 
most seasons a worm entering the pods just when they 
begin to ripen, and thus destroying the crops. If it 
were not for this, Mcaraguans delude themselves by 
thinking that the produce they might be able to 
send to Europe would materially affect the prices. 

Chap. IV.— B. S.] A SHORT CUT. 51 

We started early next morning, and soon after left 
the cart-road, which ever since our departure from 
Leon we had been able to follow, and which passed 
over tolerably level ground, though round the large 
volcanoes and over fields of lava. The road we now 
took, Cleto informed us, was a short cut, but, like 
most short cuts if one is not quite familiar with them, 
it turned out to be rather a long one. The whole 
day we did not see a house or meet a single human 
being, and, except two stagnant pools, the only water 
we found was a little brook. On advancing, the 
country became more hilly, and we had to cross valleys 
full of large boulders, resting on black mould, in 
the rainy season one mass of mud. It was very 
warm indeed, and, as most of the trees were quite leaf- 
less, as ours are in the depth of winter, we suffered 
very much from the sun. We soon finished a few 
bottles of water which we carried along with us, and 
to quench our thirst ate some hog-plums and "uvas" 
{Ardisia eoriacea). One of the valleys was full of trees 
bearing fruits like oranges ; and Captain Holman, de- 
lighted at the sight, galloped ahead to gather some. 
To his disappointment, though not to mine, these 
" oranges" turned out to be the fruit of a calabash- 
tree (Crescentia alata), the seeds of which the Nicara- 
guans make into a cooling drink, and sell in some of 
the shops of the towns, whilst the shell is turned into 

After continued travelling in this inhospitable 
region, we were glad to perceive, towards sunset, a 
farm, which stood on the top of a hill, and rejoiced in 

e 2 



the name of Hacienda de Pilon. This farm struck me as 
the most tidily kept in the whole of Nicaragua, the 
principal dwelling-house being extremely clean and 
comfortable. An evergreen fig-tree, with a crown of 
gigantic dimensions, was diffusing a delicious coolness 
and shade around the place. As soon as we entered 
the house, and had obtained permission to stop, a young 
girl set to work preparing tiste, a cooling draught com- 
posed of water, sugar, and roasted Indian corn-flour and 
chocolate, which is commonly used throughout Nica- 
ragua, and of which native travellers always carry a 
sufficient supply. At this farm we found a flock of 
sheep, one of the few I have seen in the country, and 
producing real wool, though some theorists would fain 
have us believe that this is impossible in the lowlands 
of the tropics. 

After leaving the Hacienda de Pilon, the aspect of 
the country gradually improved, there being few run- 
ning streams and several houses. We ascended con- 
siderably, and, striking once more the main road, 
met with trains of mules carrying cotton, hides, and 
cheese. Early in the afternoon we reached the vil- 
lage of Achuapa, said to be about eight leagues from 
the Hacienda de Pilon, and containing about thirty 
houses, some of them with tiled roofs. There is a 
small chapel, but no resident curate. In the popula- 
tion the Indian element predominates. We took up 
our quarters under a large open shed, where we slung 
our hammocks, and hardly had finished doing so, when 
we received a visit from the schoolmaster, and that 
compound of beadledom and mayor of every Spanish 



place, large cane, with silver knob, in hand, the alcalde, 
both of whom offered to assist ns any way in their 
power. We gratified their curiosity by telling them 
that we had come on purpose, all the way from Eng- 
land, to inspect the silver mines of New Segovia, and 
to inquire especially into the merits of that of Limon. 
They assured us that there was no country so rich 
in silver mines as theirs, and that the Limon was one 
of fabulous wealth. Some of the questions which 
the schoolmaster put rather amused us. We had 
some difficulty to make him understand that the 
United States formed part of a continent which he 
himself inhabited, and to which he might travel on 
foot if he felt so inclined, and had sufficient strength 
of limb to do it. He was much startled by the in- 
formation that England was not part and parcel of the 
United States, though speaking the same language, 
and that a large pond, which it took several weeks 
to cross, separated the two. Somehow the man re- 
minded me of a colleague of his whom I met in the 
South Sea Islands, and who, when he saw an adver- 
tisement of a book entitled 'The Schoolmaster Abroad,' 
told me that he should certainly send for it, as it 
might in some way relate to him, to which I replied 
that I was perfectly persuaded it did, — he of course not 
seeing the joke. The Achuapa pedagogue did not 
rest till we had inspected the schoolhouse, of which 
both he and the alcalde were evidently not a little 
proud. It was a rough building about forty feet long 
and twenty wide, with one window and rough benches. 
So far there was nothing extraordinary. But the 


remarkable feature of the establishment was a row 
of stocks filling one side of the entire building. On 
my inquiry whether this schoolhouse also served the 
purpose of a prison, I was met by the information that 
the stocks were merely used to make the rising gene- 
ration of Achuapa better inclined to learn their lessons. 

I suppose that it must be in remembrance of my 
own educational training, and for the sake of com- 
paring my own lot as a boy with that of others, that 
I always find myself inquiring, with almost savage 
satisfaction, what punishments are inflicted in the 
various countries on ne'er-do-weels. On addressing 
one day my favourite questions to a schoolmaster at 
Cairo, he told me he gave the young Egyptians the 
bastinado. "I have often read of this," I said, "but 
never seen it applied." " Then you shall see it now," 
he rejoined, and forthwith proceeded to collar one of 
the biggest boys, and inflict the usual Oriental casti- 
gation. The boy hallooed out tremendously, and I 
naturally inquired for what offence he was punished. 
" Oh, no offence," was the reply ; " I merely gave him 
the bastinado because you said that you had never 
seen it applied." Of course I at once interceded, 
gave the boy two shillings for his pains, and the 
schoolmaster sixpence for his. 

The man under whose hospitable shed we had 
taken up our abode asked us whether we could not 
employ his son in our journeys, a fine strapping boy 
of about seventeen, with strongly-marked Indian fea- 
tures. Having to cross some high mountain- ridges, 
where our cargo-mules would require constant atten- 

Chap. IV.— B. 8.] LIMIT OF THE PINE-TREES. 55 

tion, we were only too glad to engage the lad, who 
turned out to be very useful. The road passed Las 
Tablas, where for the first time we found ourselves 
in a most delightfully cool temperature, and in a forest 
of fir-trees (Pinus tenuifotia, Benth., known by the 
name of " Ocote," a corruption of the Aztec (Mexican) 
" Qeotl)." I may, however, add that this is not the 
most southern limit of the pines on the Pacific side of 
America, but that it is, as far as at present ascer- 
tained, in latitude 12° 40' north, on the Volcan 
Yiejo, near Chinandega, at an elevation of three thou- 
sand feet above the sea-level, whilst the most north- 
ern limit, as I have shown in my Flora of Eskimo - 
land, is on the banks of the river Noatak, in latitude 
66° 44' 0" north, where Captain Bedford Pirn found a 
regular forest composed of a species (Abies arctica, 
A. Murr.) closely allied to the white pine. 

"We did not long remain in this delightfully cool 
atmosphere, but were compelled again to descend into 
the hot valleys, passing the village of San Juan de la 
Maya. Burnt bricks had been made for a church in 
the course of erection, all the other houses, about thirty 
in number, being built of " adobes" (sun-dried bricks) 
or sticks only. Here Captain Herman's mule shied so 
violently that he was thrown to the ground, and, I re- 
gret to add, seriously injured. Much to his credit, he 
would not hear of stopping, but insisted upon our push- 
ing on. A few leagues more brought us to the farm 
of Bonbon, one of the hottest places we had as yet 
passed, where again we slung our hammocks in the 
yard, under a hospitable shed, sharing it with pigs, 


goats, fowls, and other animals. Some of the people 
were suffering from fever, and were glad of some little 
medicine, which I was able to spare them. 

We left Bonbon early the next morning, and tra- 
velled about three leagues more in the hot valleys, the 
vegetation of which was very much like that of the 
Pacific coast of the Isthmus of Panama, many of the 
species being identically the same in both countries. 
Again ascending some mountain-ridges, we were 
once more greeted by the pine-trees and a delightfully 
cool breeze.* Until now there had been no sign of 
any rain, but on this day, the 8th of April, we had a 
few slight showers. An enterprising Mcaraguan, 
Don P. Castellon, had established here a coffee 
plantation, said to contain 40,000 trees. About one 
o'clock we reached Pueblo Nuevo, situated in a rich 
plain, full of cattle, and in and about which there 
are stated to be about 100*0 inhabitants. There is a 
tolerably large church, but neither school nor prison, 
as the alcalde told me with a grin. The curate was 
one of those numerous New Granadian priests who 
had preferred exile to the oath of allegiance to the 
Constitution of their country, and who on foreign 
soil were never tired of abusing the Government which 
had merely asked of them what it may fairly expect 
from every right-minded citizen. 

* Here I found a species of Oreopanax with large palmate leaves, 
new to me ; a purple Salvia, a pink Melastomacea, and Pteris aquilina ; 
a species of Rhipsalis grew on the pine-trees. Saw no snakes, and only- 
one monkey, some macaws, and that beautiful bird with two long 
feathers in tail, the Trogon resplendens (which I have also met with 
as far south as the Volcan de Chiriqui in Veraguas). 


Here we met Don P. Castellon, to whom we brought 
a letter of introduction from his brother at Leon, and 
who invited us to stop the night at his farm of 
Jamaili, which was on our road to Ocotal, and only a 
few miles off. We gladly accepted the offer, and 
had the advantage of gathering a great deal of in- 
formation. Sehor Castellon belongs to a family who 
has always shown itself favourably inclined towards 
foreign enterprise and foreign immigration, and, 
what is more, has set his countrymen a good ex- 
ample by establishing cotton and coffee plantations. 
There is nothing more singular than the dislike 
most Spanish Americans have towards foreigners ; and 
it is therefore not out of place to note an exception. 
Yet a superficial observer would think that there are 
no people in the world who were more ready to re- 
ceive immigration with the open arms of welcome. In 
none of the Eepublics are Government decrees want- 
ing, offering the most liberal terms to foreigners who 
may be ready to come into their depopulated coun- 
tries, where on an average there is hardly a man to 
every square mile ; and the people themselves, espe- 
cially the upper classes, always tell one that all that 
is required to make their country the most flourish- 
ing on the face of the earth are " hands." But 
when their professions are really put to the test, 
they throw so many obstacles in the way of the 
immigrants that most of them lose heart. Many 
a well-considered scheme for the peopling of Spanish 
America has thus become abortive. In a recently- 
published book on Central America I read that 


this dislike of the Nicaraguans to foreigners was 
chiefly due to feelings of jealousy which the native 
men conceived on account of the favour with which 
a foreigner is regarded by the fair sex. ~No doubt 
that is one reason, but only one of the many ; a white 
man, never mind the social standing he may have 
enjoyed in his own country, would be willingly ac- 
cepted in marriage by the daughters of even the first 
families. But such cases are extremely rare, the na- 
tive belles not coming up to our standard of beauty, 
nor their notions of housekeeping up to our ideas of 
tidiness. The repugnance of the Spanish Americans 
to foreign immigration seems to me perfectly natural. 
They have seen enough to understand that it would 
be the making of their countries if a numerous striv- 
ing population were to arrive, but they also feel in- 
stinctively that it would be their own " unmaking." 
They have neither the bodily nor mental power to hold 
their own against such rivals ; and they therefore prefer 
vegetating in their own indolent way than to be hustled 
about by a superior race in a struggle for -existence in 
which they know they will be worsted. The difference 
of colour is also very much in the way of a more 
favourable feeling towards foreigners springing up. 
Though by law colour as a distinction of caste has 
been abolished, and the natives try to deport them- 
selves as if they were ignorant that any real differ- 
ence ever existed, yet the foreign whites show them 
by their whole bearing that they know the full value 
of belonging to a race considered to be at the top of 
the classification of the different species of Homo, and 


the uneducated whites often give vent to regrettable 
utterances, not calculated to improve the friendly re- 
lations that should exist between people inhabiting 
one country. There is also the fact staring the na- 
tives in the face that their own race — an amalga- 
mation, as it is, between white, Indian, and negro — 
is steadily decreasing, and that a day must come 
when the greater part of Spanish America will be 
cleared of its present occupants. I remember saying 
to a Nicaraguan gentleman who was admiring those 
noble monuments of architecture, the great bridges of 
London, " Some day your republic will have bridges 
like these." " It will," he replied, mournfully, "but 
they will be built after all my countrymen have 
passed away, and yours taken possession." Much 
against my own conviction, I endeavoured to make 
him take a more cheerful view of the future of Nica- 
ragua ; but I found that he was as fully persuaded in 
his mind as I was in mine, that his presentiment 
would be borne out by subsequent events. We 
agreed, as* all those must who regard the subject 
dispassionately, that tropical America is the field of 
colonization of the future. After the northern parts of 
the New World, Australia, and New Zealand shall have 
become fully peopled, our millions will pour into this 
long-neglected region, and found thriving colonies 
and happy homes along the magnificent mountain- 
ranges and on the splendid table-lands, while busy 
steamers will ascend the mighty rivers, railroads break 
in upon the stillness of the virgin forests, and silent 
telegraphs flash along intelligence, telling of the great 


deeds of mankind, and giving the latest account of 
the pulsation of the world. But that time is as yet 
distant, and Spanish Americans need not be afraid 
that the great immigration which they so much fear 
will speedily set in ; but when it does, they and all 
their artful contrivances to keep foreigners out will 
be no more effectual than the attempt of man to stay 
the tide of the ocean. 

The country, after leaving Jamaili, was quite parched 
up, and almost the only green things were some gigantic 
Pilocerei, or old-man cactuses, and a few melon-cactuses 
and Opuntias. "We passed the villages of Alanguina 
and Totogalpa, and crossing the river Coco, the banks 
of which were clad with willows, the lovely green of 
which was quite a relief to the eye after seeing so 
much dried-up vegetation, we entered, on the 9th of 
April, 18G6, the town of Ocotal, where we were 
allowed to take up our quarters in the house of Don 
F. Yalconcello. This was the first stage of our journey 
from Leon, and its principal features may thus be 
recapitulated : — » 

The first few days we had to pass wooded plains, where 
we suffered much from want of water and from excessive 
heat and dust ; all the trees, with the exception of a 
few wild figs, being as leafless as most of ours are in the 
depth of winter, and where animal life was represented 
principally by the lizard tribe, both species and indivi- 
duals being numerous, and by monkeys, parrots, ma- 
caws, and deer, not to mention any smaller forms. The 
district traversed was but thinly peopled. One whole 
day we did not meet with a single human being ; and 


even when we did get to any habitations, we found pro- 
visions of any kind scarce. Almost invariably there 
ensued the same interrogatory between us and the na- 
tives. " Have you any eggs for sale ?" we asked. " No 
hay" (there are none) was the reply. — " Plantains ?" 
— "No hay."— "Fowls?" — "No hay." — " Indian 
corn?" — "No hay." — "Milk?" — "No hay."— 
"Beans ?" — " No hay." And so on through the whole 
catalogue of things they were likely to have. " Then 
what on earth do you have ?" — " Nada, senor, absoluta- 
mente nada." — " But you must live on something," we 
began to argue. — " "We have a little of this and a little 
of that," was the invariable reply ; " but not enough to 
spare you any." It was a hard case to find one's stock 
of provisions getting lower and lower without a chance 
of replenishing it. Want of regular and sufficient food 
and so much active exercise soon began to tell upon 
us ; and towards the end of our journey, there was no 
danger of our assuming any aldermanic proportions. 
After the first few days we found the mountains 
higher, the. temperature cooler, and instead of leafless 
woods, forests of pine and evergreen oak. A week's 
hard riding, from seven to twenty leagues a day, 
brought us to the end of the first stage of our 

Ocotal, the capital of New Segovia, which derives 
its name from the pine, or ocote, formerly plentiful 
in the neighbourhood. Ocote, or rather Ocotl, is a 
name of Aztec derivation, brought here, with many 
others, by Mexican immigrants, during the time of 
Montezuma ; for the Mexican Empire tried to extend 


its way even further south than Nicaragua. I fancy 
that a delicious and very wholesome fruit, as large 
as a good-sized apple, and much cultivated here, was 
introduced by the same agency. It is called by the 
people Matasana, and by botanists Casimiroa edulis ; 
and it would doubtless thrive in Australia and southern 
England, as I found it also in the higher mountains 
of northern Mexico. Seeds of it were sent to Mr. 
Bull's Nursery, at Chelsea, where young plants are 
now to be procured. 

The town of Ocotal is built on a plain between two 
rivers, Coco and Depilto. It was founded about eighty 
years ago by Colonel Irias. A long time ago Ciudad 
Yieja was the capital of this department, but that was 
destroyed by the buccaneers, and the capital was then 
shifted to Ciudad Antigua, but even that was twice 
sacked by the pirates, who found their way here from 
the Atlantic seaboard. Division then took place 
amongst the leading families, some of them, the La- 
cayos, Montealegres, etc., went to Leon and Granada, 
some remained behind and founded Ocotal; while 
again, others emigrated to the neighbouring state of 
Honduras. This piece of historical information was 
given to me by one of "the oldest inhabitants," and 
he begged me not to forget putting it down in my 
book, so that Europe might be enlightened on a 
subject of such importance. 

Ocotal is little better than a village, with a church 
of some pretension commenced years ago, but, as yet, 
unfinished ; a town-hall and prison in the course of 
construction, and some elementary schools, where the 

Chap. IV.— B. S.] ARRIVAL AT OCOTAL. 63 

discipline, however, is not enforced by a row of stocks, 
as in one of the country villages through which we 

The inhabitants follow agricultural pursuits, and 
cattle and mule breeding ; several of them are said to 
carry on a lucrative contraband trade with Honduras, 
the absurdly high import and export duties in most 
Spanish American republics conferring a premium 
upon that illicit traffic, and there is besides a dash 
of romance about it. On the latter point I can 
speak with all the force of authority, for, though I 
have never been a smuggler myself, I was on board 
her Majesty's vessels which, on the Mexican coast, 
used to do some little smuggling of silver dollars, in 
the profits of which the admiral of the station, and the 
captain, officers, and men of the ships participated. 
The Mexican government, having almost prohibited 
the export of coined dollars by high export duties, 
the merchants found it cheaper to buy over the whole 
coastguard, and pay a handsome bonus to our naval 
officers, rather than let their treasure pass through 
the custom-house. Hence sprang up the Mexican 
treasure-smuggling, winked at by the Admiralty, and 
distasteful to many subordinate naval officers, some of 
whom have openly refused to accept the usual pro- 
ceeds of such a service. 

The neighbourhood of Ocotal is famous for its silver- 
mines, and we did not fail to visit them. We also 
found some extensive tracts of grass-land, suitable 
for sheep-farming, which might be bought at a very 
cheap rate, and which I recommend for that pur- 


pose to people who have been disappointed in ob- 
taining suitable "runs" in Australia. The wool 
might be exported by way of the river Coco, which 
empties itself into the Atlantic at Cape Gracias & Dios, 
and has recently been opened to trade by English 
mahogany-cutters and india-rubber collectors. This 
route was well known to the buccaneers, who occasion- 
ally came up to these mountains to ease the inhabi- 
tants of any spare cash or useless trinkets they might 
happen to have. They would not find much at present, 
even in the capital of the department. 





The thirst for gold and silver which first led the 
Spaniards to overrun tropical America has been in- 
herited to the fullest extent by their descendants; 
and, next to treasure-trove and gambling, there is no 
subject more popular with them than that of mining. 
Everybody takes an interest in it, everybody has 
some share in one mine or other, and no sooner 
has a new locality disclosed a few rich specimens 
than money for working it is offered from every 
side. People who own little more than what they 
stand upright in willingly contribute their last shil- 
ling to help on the project. Yet notwithstanding 
this general interest felt in the subject, there is no 
people so far behind in this art as the Spanish, and 
more particularly the Central Americans. Hence their 
attempts to enrich themselves in this way almost in- 


variably end in impoverishment. This was forcibly 
brought home to us during our stay at Ocotal, and the 
various excursions which we made in the surrounding 
district. The news that we had come to look at gold 
and silver mines, and had the command of £150,000 
to purchase any we thought desirable, spread like 
wildfire, and our rooms were literally besieged by 
people anxious to show us specimens of their pro- 

Our first excursion led us to Maquelizo, where 
some rich silver mines were said to exist. Three 
gentlemen from Ocotal, Don Mcolas Irias, Don 
Manuel Calderon, and Don Concepcion Mocada were 
our guides. Leaving the town at sunrise, we made 
straight for the silver mine of Salvadora, belonging 
to Don U, Irias and others. It is situated between 
the farms of Ocorcona and Ocote Easpada, about 
seven leagues from Ocotal, on the top of a mountain 
about 4000 feet high, covered with pine and oak, 
and in a fine healthy climate. A shaft having been 
sunk on the lode, it was easily examined ; and we were 
greatly disappointed to find that, although rather 
promising on the surface, the mine was poor lower 
down. We told the owner that it was no use show- 
ing us such a property as that, and the best he could 
do would be to abandon it altogether. He replied 
with the greatest naivete that abandoning it was good, 
but selling it better. 

The Salvadora was so much out of the way, and 
up such a steep mountain, that great part of a 
day was occupied by our visit to it, and it was late 

Chap. V.— B. S.] MAQTJELIZO MINES. 67 

in the afternoon of the 11th of April, before we 
reached Maquelizo, a small mining village, surrounded 
by pine-clad hills, and built on the bank of a river. 
We arrived early enough, however, to inspect the 
ruins of former dressing-floors and aqueducts, which 
evidently showed that, at one time, mining opera- 
tions had here been carried on to a considerable ex- 
tent. Of late years a company had been formed at 
Ocotal for the purpose of resuming work, and Don 
Concepcion Mocada was the director of this new 
undertaking. He was good enough to show us, on 
the following day, over every part of the Maque- 
lizo Mines, including Las Animas, San Jos£, and 
Santa Eosa, but the impression we carried away 
was that they were not worth having, and that they 
had probably been abandoned by the old Spaniards 
when it was found to be no longer profitable to work 

Having on the third day returned to Ocotal, and re- 
crossed on our way a rivulet with water sufficiently 

* " Maquelizo Mines. — Las Animas. — This mine is situated on 
a high hill. A great deal of work has been done on the back of the 
lode, and it appears from the workings that the lode is composed of 
small veins, as in every direction they have driven several levels and 
sunk several shafts. By these means the back of the lode is broken 
down, but in tracing it down the mountain it is found to be more 
compact. In the bottom level the lode is seen to have been worked 
in several places, back and bottom, for silver, but all works done 
in the bottom of this level have been filled up with rubbish by the 
present owners, the lode being probably of no value. The direc- 
tion of the lode is from north-east to south-west, and it inclines south. 

" Sari Jose Mine. — This mine is situated about a fourth of a mile west 
of Las Animas, on the same mountain, but from the work done we 

F 2 


hot to make it unpleasant to put one's hand in, we set 
out for the Limon Mine, which enjoys in Nicaragua 
the same reputation as a silver mine, as the Javali 
does as a gold mine. Before we reached Puntalito, 
the nearest farm, we were twelve hours in the saddle, 
riding hard all the time. After travelling about a 
league we passed the village of Mosonti, and then 
entered the valleys of Achuapa and Arrayan, the 
latter deriving its name from a myrtaceous plant with 
edible fruit and antidysenteric root. Crossing some 
high mountains, we came to a large grassy plain, call- 
ing at the farms of Santa Clara, La Punta, San Nico- 
las, and Santa Barbara, where oranges, sugar cane, 
coffee, and two kinds of sapotas were noticed. On 
this plain, which is pleasantly varied by clumps of 
magnificent pine and oak trees, is invaluable for sheep- 
runs, and enjoys a delightful climate, the Limon Mine 
is situated. This mine has been worked till a rather 
recent date, but had to be abandoned because the 
natives were unable to get the upper hand of the 
water. It is impossible to form any just estimate 
of its value until in the first instance the water is 
got rid of, which, as the mine is situated in a deep 
quebrada, would be a troublesome task. In the lode 
cropping out on the surface no trace of silver could 
be seen. Having examined the Quintin, and several 
other abandoned mines near the Limon, all of which 

could not find the right direction of any lode. It appears that the 
workings are on small veins, as no lode can be seen. 

" Santa Rosa Mine. — This mine is situated about one mile south of 
Las Animas. Three shafts have been sunk, the lowest being a diagonal 
one. But we could not find any lode or vein whatever." — J. Holman. 

Chap. V.— B. S.] LIMON AND DEPILTO. 69 

were of no value to us, we returned dead tired to 


Our next and final excursion was to Depilto, a 
famous mining village about two and a half leagues 
from Ocotal, and about 1500 feet above it. The 
road leads through romantic valleys, where the river 
Depilto winds its way, and where here and there 
abandoned reduction works may be seen. Depilto 
consists at present of about eighty houses, only two 
or three of which rise above the character of mud 
huts. The whole place is surrounded by high moun- 
tains covered with pine, oak, and liquidambar trees, 
amongst which a stemless fan palm and some bram- 
bles (Bubus) are found. There is plenty of water- 
power for the largest kind of machinery ; but the place 
seemed to be blighted. One after the other of the 

* " The Limon Mine is situated about fifty miles north-north-west of 
Ocotal, at the upper part of a long plain, and in broken ground, in 
which there is a small spring. The lode runs north-east and south-west, 
and where it can be seen it is from a foot to a foot and a half in width. 
Not a trace of silver is to be seen. A level has been driven on the lode 
south-west, but how far it extends we cannot tell, as it is filled with 
water and rubbish. A shaft has also been sunk south of the lode ; 
it is about twenty yards deep, and at the time of our visit was full 
of water to about five yards to surface. We had no chance of taking 
any samples, except from the lode crossing the Quebrada. So little 
can be seen of the mine and the works done that it would not be ad- 
visable to purchase in Limon before the water has been drawn out 
and the shafts and old workings been cleaned up. This would take 
six Englishmen at least six months, including their going and coining, 
and might cost about £600. At the Rio Calientes, about a mile and a 
half from the mine, there are the ruins of some old dressing-floors ; 
they are of no value whatever, but the water-power there might be 
turned to useful account." — J. Holman. 


silver mines in the neighbourhood had been given 
up, and at the time of onr visit only one was being 
worked. This was called Santa Ana, and was sepa- 
rated from Depilto by a ridge of high and steep moun- 
tains, across which all the ore had to be earned on 
the backs of mules to be reduced at the dressing- works 
of the village. Don Chico Pacuaga, one of the owners 
of these mines and reduction works, was good enough 
to show us over them, and also allow us to inspect his 
books, an examination of which convinced us that 
the last of the Depilto Mines was carried on at a 
loss, and that it was undesirable to purchase it. 
It has since been altogether abandoned, I believe. 
We gradually arrived at the conclusion, that in the 
Ocotal district no good silver mines had as yet been 
discovered; that there are innumerable small veins, 
rich at the surface but entirely dying out lower 
down, and that this explains why all the mining 
operations have been suspended, and why those spe- 
culators who based their calculations on specimens 
found at the top, and the hopes that the lodes and 
veins would improve lower down, have met with dis- 

* " The principal one of the Depilto mines is called Santa Ana, 
situated about fifteen miles north-north-west of Ocotal, on the south side 
of a high mountain. The lode runs east and west, and is from one foot 
to a foot and a half in width. A great deal of work has been done in 
this mine, chiefly by driving cross-cuts north, cutting the lode at right 
angles, and then breaking the lode from the back of these cross- 
cuts. Prom the workings it appears that the back of these lodes is 
generally rich in silver, but as the lodes go down they become poor, 
and very often die out altogether. In this mine they have stopped 
working on the lode at the bottom level, and have commenced taking 


Our Ocotal friends were evidently rather mortified 
when they discovered what our views were, having 
hoped that we would lay out a little money in their 
town, but they soon seemed to recover their spirit, 
and on the morning of the 19th of April, when we 
took our departure, a whole calvalcade of gentlemen 
accompanied us as far as the river Coco, where they 
bade us adieu, and we once more thanked them 
cordially for their kindness to'us. 

Before leaving this part of the country, I should 
not omit alluding to a gigantic saurian, said to have 
been seen in New Segovia, and of the vertebrae of 
which people are reported to have made footstools. An 
account of " the monster," of which I did not hear 
until I had returned to Leon, fills several columns of 
the official Gazette of Nicaragua, and is from the 
pen of one Paulino Montenegro, B.A. The author 
states that, having heard of the existence of a gi- 
gantic reptile near La Cuchilla, he started, in company 
with several friends, to have a look at the animal, 
which was said to have made burrows in the man- 
ner of moles, and been the cause of uprooting trees 
and making large stones roll downhill. He found 
everything as represented, and saw the course the 
animal, or rather animals — for there appeared to have 
been two of different sizes — had taken. He did not 
obtain a sight of the creatures themselves ; but, from 

out the pillars, a true sign that the lode will not meet or pay the 
expenses of working in depth. 

"La Gloria, another of the Depilto Mines, is situated about half a 
mile north of Santa Ana, and of no value. The lode is in a hard rock, 
runs east and west, and is about four inches wide. 1 ' — J. Holman. 


the tunnels they had made, it was conjectured that 
they had the shape of the guapote fish of the country, 
were about twelve yards in length, and, from impres- 
sions left on the wet ground, had " scales like those of 
alligators." Ancient tradition, the reporter adds, knows 
of several monsters of similar size in the neighbour- 
hood. To a man of science the account given is alto- 
gether unsatisfactory ; but, before consigning it to the 
lumber-room of cock-and-bull stories, the affair ought 
to be looked into more closely. "We must not forget 
that on the very highway of nations, the Isthmus 
of Panama, one of the largest, if not the largest, ter- 
restrial animal of Tropical America (Elasmotherium 
Bairdi, Gill, or Tapirus Batrdz, J. E. Gray)* was al- 
lowed to roam about unknown to men of science, 
though well known to the natives, until quite recently 
Professor Gill, of "Washington, drew attention to it. 
Since then the poor animal has had no peace. Both 
the Zoological Gardens in Eegent's Park and the 
British Museum have issued warrants against him. 
Captain Dow, of the steamer l Guatemala,' who has 
been the means of apprehending so many unruly 
creatures of Central America, and handing them over 
to men of science to do just as they like with, is 
again acting in this instance, and offered at the 
various Panamd railway stations a reward to any one 
who may bring him the new tapir, either dead or alive. 
Passing once more Totogalpa, we took thence a due 

* There are at present, Dr. Gray informs me, four species of Tapirs 
known from America, viz. the Tapirus Americanus, T. Bairdi, the 
species from the Andes, and a fourth from Brazil. 

Chap. V.— B. S.] MONTANA DE YALE. 73 

easterly direction, the road for Matagalpa, which to- 
wards noon brought us to Palacaguina,* a village in- 
habited by negroes and zamboes, who were so lazy 
that it was only by the help of the alcalde I was 
able to get a guide, for up to this place we had felt 
our way as well as we could. The road, on proceed- 
ing, was extremely stony, there being what the Spa- 
niards call a cuesta, and one of the new cargo mules 
which we had been compelled to purchase at Ocotal 
soon became unfit for work. Towards sunset we reached 
the rancho of Santa Eosa (nearly every other place 
here is called by that name), and were glad to be 
allowed to sling our hammocks under the veranda of 
the house. Getting another cargo mule, and a boy 3 
we were up early in the morning, and crossed several 
rich valleys, full of horses and cattle, where here and 
there isolated farms, but no regular villages, could 
be seen. Our progress was but slow, and, one of 
our mules running back, after kicking off its cargo, 
we did not get further that evening than the Boca de 
la Montana de Yale, where we put up at a rancho, 
so small that there was no room even for our ham- 
mocks, which had to be slung under some trees in a 
coffee plantation surrounding it. One of the first ques- 
tions which the woman of the house asked was, " How 
I was off for soap ?" I told her that I had still a piece 
or two left ; but she wanted to persuade me that we 
were about to enter a very dusty and dirty part of 
the country, and that it would not be amiss to pur- 

* About the church I observed a juniper-looking tree, not pre- 
viously observed in the country. 


chase ten pounds of the dark saponaceous compound 
which she had just been boiling, and also, if I would 
take her advice, relieve her of ten pounds of coffee, 
which she could spare me if I paid her a good price. 
I told her that this was a very inopportune time to 
drive a bargain, as we were dreadfully hungry, and 
she would stand a much better chance of disposing of 
her soap and coffee to advantage if she would sell 
us in the first instance ten eggs and ten corn-cakes ; 
perhaps it might also not prove a bad speculation to 
let us first taste some of her coffee. 

The scenery about here was truly grand. At the 
back of the rancho there were thick pine forests, in 
front green savanas, sloping down to a rivulet, and, 
further on, the Montana de Yale, which we entered 
the next morning, and where the vegetation was more 
luxuriant and fresher than we had seen it in any 
other part of the country. There were beautiful tree- 
ferns, and elegant cane -palms, liquidambars of truly 
gigantic dimensions, one hundred and fifty feet high 
and thirty feet in circumference, being the leading 
trees, and all being just in leaf, a fine May green, 
presented an appearance almost equal in beauty to that 
of a beech forest at home in early summer. How well 
this locality would be suited for growing coffee ! About 
six leagues from the "Boca" is the village of San 
Eafael, which is situated in a plain, and is composed of 
forty houses. The people declared there were about 
2000 souls in the place and its immediate neighbour- 
hood, which, as there are many farms, may be true. 
Taking a hasty breakfast, and purchasing some 


oranges, twenty for one real, we pushed on for Jino- 
tega, a town of two hundred houses and a church, — 
hedges of tall yucca-trees imparting to it a rather cha- 
racteristic look. We alighted in one of the best houses, 
vhich we found, however, disgustingly dirty, and 
full of fleas and jiggers. "We were directed to it by 
some Americans who were selling leaf tobacco in the 
street at the rate of one real per pound. They be- 
longed to a set of immigrants, in all thirteen families, 
from the Southern United States, who had formed 
themselves into a company for the purpose of carry- 
ing on agricultural operations here. They had grown 
tobacco, maize, onions, beans, etc., but had succeeded 
only with the tobacco, and were not getting on well. 
I advised them to go to parts of Nicaragua where they 
could sell their produce for ready money. 

The white convolvulus, which flowers all night, and 
at the first rays of the rising sun begins to wither, 
was still in full bloom when we left Jinotega, and 
after riding in a south-easterly direction about seven 
leagues over a rough, stony road, we arrived at 
Matagalpa, the capital of the department of the same 
name. One of the first buildings on entering the 
town, for I suppose I must call it a town, though we in 
Europe would call it a mere village, was a flour-mill, 
the only one I had seen in the country, wheat being 
grown in some of the hills in the neighbourhood, 
but the flour prepared from it proving very dark and 
coarse. We made straight for the house of Sr. Be- 
nito Morales, whom we had been led to believe had 
some gold mines to sell. He was absent from home, 


but his wife told us that we must have been mis- 
informed on the subject, — she might have added by 
her husband himself, — and gave us pretty clearly 
to understand that we need not natter ourselves that 
her roof was a hospitable one, and, there being no 
inns in the place, we had better try our luck at 
Colonel Gross's, who was himself a foreigner, though 
married to a Nicaraguan lady, and who might be dis- 
posed to, she was almost certain would, give us shelter. 
In what a false position a traveller constantly finds 
himself in a semi-civilized country without inns ! 
How glad you would be to pay and order what you 
require, instead of waiting patiently till you get what 
your hosts are disposed to give you, and not have it in 
your power to make any return, for they will not let 
you, and, in many instances, feel hurt even if you 
make a present to the children or servants. Such, 
however, is invariably the case when you go into the 
houses of the upper classes in these countries ; amongst 
the lower you can pay and order without giving 
offence, and we always preferred taking up our quar- 
ters with them whenever the accommodation for our- 
selves and beasts was sufficiently large. 

Acting on Mrs. Benito Morales' hint, we rode up to 
Colonel Gross's house, and saw a young Swiss stand- 
ing in the veranda, whom I found to be a kinsman 
of Professor ISTageli, the well-known physiologist. 
Colonel Manuel Gross, the Military Governor of Ma- 
tagalpa, a Hungarian by birth, was away from home, 
but his wife and sister-in-law kindly invited us to 
make their house our own during our stay, and they 

Cuap. V.— B. S.] PRISON SOCIETY. 77 

did everything in their power to make ns comfort- 
able. The house was situated in one of the best 
parts of the town, and in the large square close to 
the cabildo, or townhall, and military barracks, and 
prison. In the latter, a man was confined who was 
going to be shot on Colonel Gross's return. He had 
been hired for eight dollars to kill another, and the 
villain who hired him, a man of some property, lived 
undisturbed at Chinandega. The widow of the mur- 
dered man had spent 2000 dollars to bring the as- 
sassin to justice, who, it appears, had escaped to Hon- 
duras, and resided there for some years. There was 
also a young gentleman confined in prison for at- 
tempting the life of and maiming a rival in a love 
affair. His term had nearly expired, and he was 
allowed to go unfettered into the veranda; for in 
this country — what an improvement upon our old- 
fashioned plan ! — prisons have verandas : he hav- 
ing given his "word of honour" not to effect his 
escape. He was a tall, gracefully-built mulatto, 
who seemed to make a point of dressing well, or 
rather overdressing, and thus, with very bad taste, 
rendering himself unduly conspicuous. Cleto, our own 
servant, also recognized a townsman of his amongst 
the " chain-gang," to whom he was quite affectionate, 
and who, he assured us, was in that position quite 
undeservedly ; he added that they seemed to be 
mighty particular in this place, and that in Leon 
his friend might have done the thing he was in for 
(whatever that might be) over and over again, with- 
out being locked up. 


Matagalpa has three churches, but none of the 
public buildings are of any importance. Few of the 
houses have tiled roofs, but the majority, and one of 
the churches, are thatched. There are about 2000 
inhabitants in and about the place, who depend for 
their supplies upon the Indians of the neighbour- 
hood. At the best of times these supplies are irre- 
gular and insufficient. When we arrived, there was 
not a handful of grass or bushel of corn to be had, 
and our poor beasts had to go without anything that 
night. Early in the morning the inhabitants go seve- 
ral miles out of the town to meet the Indians. Our 
servant started long before daybreak to buy up some 
fodder, and had a regular stand-up fight for it. 
Shortly before our arrival the Indians had refused 
to bring in any more ; in fact, they had struck 
work, being dissatisfied with the shabby way in 
which the townspeople had behaved, and the con- 
sequence had been a perfect panic, there being 
hardly anything to eat. Their conduct was thought 
sufficiently alarming to induce the Government to 
send more soldiers to Matagalpa, and this increase of 
the garrison had sufficed to preserve the old order of 
things. Nevertheless, the townsfolk were highly in- 
censed against their purveyors ; and a lady who could 
speak a little English told me that it was her firm con- 
viction that the aborigines had no souls; and they 
never will have, I added, — suddenly remembering a 
Shakespearian pun, — until they begin to wear shoes. 

ISTo sooner had the news that we were looking out 
for mines spread through the town, than several 

Chap. V.-B. S.] 0CALCA. 79 

people called on us, offering to sell us some. On the 
invitation of a Mr. Bamirez, we visited a locality 
called Ocalca, several leagues from Matagalpa. In a 
plain through which a river of the same name, a tri- 
butary of the Matagalpa, winds its course, we found a 
gold mine, owned partly by Mr. Eamirez and partly 
by Messrs. Perez. One of the owners, Padre Perez, 
a native of Costarica, was hard at work with his own 
hands, trying, by means of a small pump and gutta- 
percha tube, to get the water out of a shaft of about 
forty feet deep which had been sunk on the lode. 
Without any knowledge of even the first elements of 
mining, he had spent every penny he could com- 
mand on his pet project of developing these mines. 
But a glance at the whole was sufficient to con- 
vince us that, unless he should happen to strike a very 
rich spot, all his labour must be in vain. Bamirez 
showed me sixteen dollars, which he told me should 
be the last he intended to lend the mining Curate. 

From Ocalca we went to Las Limas, where an 
American, Mr. Greer, and several of his enterprising 
countrymen were carrying on some gold-mining opera- 
tions, and where we were received with great hospita- 
lity. Mr. Greer had been working for some years at 
Depilto, and fully endorsed the opinion which we had 
been led to form about the mines of that district. 

Another day completed all our inquiries at Mata- 
galpa, and on the 27th of April we started for Sebaco, a 
distance of about eight leagues. Our road lay almost 
due west, and would be fit for carts if a few bad places 
were mended. Sebaco is a few miles from the old village 



of the same name, destroyed some years ago by the over- 
flowing of the river Matagalpa, and consists of about 
thirty houses built on a hill, commanding a view of a 
rich plain, on which are grown large quantities of the 
brown beans, which in Nicaragua, as in Mexico, are 
deemed essential to every meal. We saw with sur- 
prise that the people were using wooden ploughs 
of a most primitive kind, but nevertheless an im- 
provement on most other parts of the country, where 
nobody thinks of ploughing or digging previous to 
planting corn or beans. The whole of this plain, 
extending over many leagues, but only an infinite- 
simal part of which is cultivated, is the property of the 
Indians, who, so the story runs, once upon a time pre- 
sented the King of Spain with six fanegas of tamarinds 
made of pure gold, in return for which his Majesty gave 
them a box to keep church ornaments in, a bell of large 
dimensions, and the Sebaco plain. The box is still 
preserved, and also the deed of gift, but the bell was 
found too heavy to be removed from the Pacific coast, 
and will remain there probably a century or two longer, 
until proper roads shall have been made. Of course, 
the Spaniards and their descendants have tried very 
hard to find out whence the gold sent to Spain was 
obtained, but as the Indians in possession of the 
secret have nearly all died out, and the few surviving 
ones do not seem disposed to make a clean breast of it, 
the spot which supplied the riches is not likely to be- 
come known except by accidental discovery or proper 
geological survey. 







Foreigners have already done a great deal for these 
countries ; and, if they should but arrive in sufficient 
numbers, would doubtless regenerate them. All im- 
provements are due to their efforts or direct influence ; 
the natives, unaided, seeming to be incapable of 
emerging from the abject state in which they are 
plunged. This was forcibly brought home to me 
when, on the evening of the 28th of April, long 
after darkness had set in, we heard the whistle of a 
steam-engine, and the hammering of the stampers 
of an ore-crushing mill, and soon after arrived at 
Guayava, the reduction works of a gold mine 
belonging to two Americans, Messrs. Fitzgerald and 
Hussey. A steam-engine in the midst of a virgin 
forest always reminds me of the monks one sees tra- 



veiling by railway in some European countries ; one 
feels that the two cannot long exist together; either 
the one or the other must give way. We were very 
glad to be once more within the accustomed sounds 
and sights of progressive civilization. That very day, 
early in the morning, we had left Sebaco, called on 
our way at a farm belonging to Mr. Wassmar, a 
German gentleman, in whose house at that village we 
had stopped, then lost our way amongst forests of 
Nicaragua wood, tired out our animals ere we could 
find the right track again, passed over some fright- 
fully stony roads — the Cuesta de Tinaja, — arrived 
after sunset, quite fagged out, on the banks of a 
river, crossed it, and found ourselves at the village of 
Jicaral ; and riding another couple of miles, and once 
more crossing a river, arrived at Guayava. 

I need not add, we were received with American 
hospitality, though the owners of the property were 
absent, they having waited more than a week for our 
reported arrival. We remained two days examining 
both the mine and the machinery. The latter con- 
sisted of ten stampers and two arrastras, driven by 
two steam-engines, — the ore, after being reduced by 
the stampers, passed over galvanized copper-plates 
into the " cups " of the arrastras, and there was 
still further reduced. It was a beautiful piece of 
machinery, which would have made the fortune of 
the owners, if the ore with which they were able to 
supply it from the adjacent Pillar Mines had been 
of sufficient richness. But an examination convinced 
us that, whatever the mine may have been in its 

Chap. VI.— B. S.] GXJAYAVA. 83 

earlier days, the ore was now too poor to make the 
working, on a small scale, profitable, and the assay of 
specimens we took away fully bore out this view. 
Nor did the place seem healthy, owing probably to 
the occasional overflowing of the river. Two young 
Americans, in charge of the mine and mill, looked 
like men already in their graves, thin, weak, and 
worn down by fever. I advised them to try at once 
change of climate. Unfortunately they did not take 
the advice, — who ever does take sound and timely 
advice ? — and both of them have since died. It was 
evident, from all we saw, that in this instance the 
steam-engine would not get the better of the virgin 
forest, that the white man's energy had here been mis- 
directed, and that the rank tropical vegetation wonld 
shortly once more assume its full sway.* 

The result of our journey through New Segovia and 
Matagalpa in search of good gold and silver mines 
having thus been unsuccessful, it only remained for \ s 
to try Chontales, a region on the Atlantic side of Lake 
Nicaragua, which had been brought to the notice of 
European capitalists by Captain Bedford Pirn, E.N. 
From a paper submitted by him to the British Associa- 

" The Pillar Mines are about seventy miles north-east of Leon, 
and near the river Santa Eosa. A great quantity of work has been done 
on the lode by sinking shafts and driving levels. The direction 
of the lode is north and south, within a few degrees, the width about 
six feet, composed chiefly of quartz. We took several samples from 
this lode at the bottom level, and washed them carefully, but could 
not see any traces of gold in any one of them. There are two steam- 
engines, one a 2 5 -horse-power, driving a ten-head stamp-crushing rock; 
the second 15 -horse-power, driving two arrastras." — J. Holman. 



tion at Dundee, it appears that about the year 1850 a 
boy, in digging holes for the uprights of a house near 
the present town of Libertad, turned up some excellent 
ore which attracted the attention of a man of some 
mining experience. In course of time, the news of 
the discovery reached Granada, and caused some little 
excitement ; but the filibuster war then raging in Nica- 
ragua checked every legitimate enterprise. As soon as 
affairs became a little more settled, a very fine lode 
was traced out close to the banks of the river Mico, a 
tributary of the Escondido, or Blewfields river. This 
lode, afterwards named the San Juan, was worked 
upon after the native system, many pozos and bancos 
being driven upon it with remarkable success. The 
discovery of tw T o or three smaller mines in the vici- 
nity followed, but it was not until the gem of the dis- 
trict, the famous Javali Mine, was opened out that the 
real richness of Chontales became apparent. Consign- 
ments of ore having been made to a well-known firm 
in London, and Captain Pirn's attention drawn to the 
matter while in Nicaragua, he was enabled on his 
return to England to lay the subject before some 
practical men, by whom it was decided to send out 
proper persons to examine such gold and silver mines 
as might have been partially developed. 

On November 17, 1864, Captain Pirn, Mr. White, 
Consul- General for Nicaragua, and Mr. William C. 
Paul, a mining engineer, sailed from Southampton in 
one of the vessels of the Eoyal West India Mail Packet 
Company for Grey Town, which they reached on the 
12th of December. They found that they should be 

Chap. VI.— B. S.] THE EIVER SAN JUAN. 85 

spared the ascent of the river San Juan in an open 
canoe, as one of the river steamers of the Central 
American Transit Company would leave on the 18th, 
and take them as far as Lake Nicaragua. At twelve 
o'clock on December 18 they embarked on board the 
' City of Granada.' This steamer, built at Grey Town 
at a cost of about 20,000 dollars, is flat-bottomed, 
driven by a huge wheel at stern, by which a speed of 
ten knots can be obtained ; it draws 18 inches when 
deeply loaded, and will carry 500 passengers, besides 
about 100 tons of freight. About four o'clock on the 
morning of the 19th they reached the Machuca ra- 
pids, which fortunately had sufficient water to enable 
them to pass over them in safety. It required two 
and a half hours to pass the Balas and Mico rapids, a 
distance, altogether, 'between Machuca and Castillo, 
of about eleven miles of rapids ; here they had to 
disembark, and convey themselves and luggage to the 
other side. The Fort or Castillo is the place captured 
by Nelson in 1780, and it was in storming one of its 
outworks, situated on an island called Bartolo, that 
Nelson was wounded while, as he himself said, hoard- 
ing it. The grandmother of General Martinez was 
in the fort at the time, and when her husband, who 
was one of the officers, counselled surrender, the lady, 
although only sixteen, made the defenders hold out, 
and herself fired the cannon which caused Nelson's 
wound. For this act of heroism the King of Spain 
made the young lady a colonel, besides conferring 
certain decorations, and a medal of honour, at present 
in possession of her descendants. 


The Castillo rapids being too formidable for the 
steamer to overcome, the travellers had to shift to 
another steamer, the ' City of Leon/ which waited 
on the other side; but not being engaged on the 
regular transit trip, did not leave till half-past one 
o'clock on the 20th. In two hours they had safely 
passed the Toros, the last rapids on the river. Up 
to this time they had been pursued by the rains, 
which at this season of the year are not expected 
much above Grey Town. About dark they arrived 
at San Carlos, a small fort built on the point where 
Lake Nicaragua runs off into the San Juan river. 
Upwards of thirty hours had thus been occupied in 
actual steaming on the passage from Grey Town to 
San Carlos, a distance of 119 miles, or as nearly as pos- 
sible at the rate of four miles an hour. Here the course 
of the Central American transit runs to the westward 
across the lake, while they had to go north about. 

In canoes, which had been brought thus far on the 
deck of the steamer, they started at 10 a.m. on the 
morning of the 21st. Favoured by a breeze, they 
arrived at four p.m. at San Miguelito — merely a col- 
lection of substantial huts (some of them with an 
upper story), perched upon rising ground, with savana 
land stretching away inland as far as the eye could 
reach — a most beautiful scene. This is the Ultima Thule 
of civilization in Chontales, San Carlos being simply a 
fort. From this point Captain Pirn decided on journey- 
ing overland through the interior of the country, so that 
Mr. Paul might have the fullest opportunity of mak- 
ing himself thoroughly acquainted with the district ; 


but as time is not considered of importance by the 
natives of Central America, it was not until the 24th 
that the necessary number of horses could be pur- 

At 9 a.m. on the 24th the travellers were able to 
make a start for their long ride through Chontales. 
The cavalcade consisted of a guide, with a led horse, 
or rather one tied to the tail of his own animal, car- 
rying the baggage ; next, Captain Pirn himself, with 
a spare horse tied to his horse's tail in like manner, 
then Mr. George Chambers, the well-known painter, 
and lastly Mr. Paul; it being necessary to maintain 
single file, as the roads were only narrow tracks. The 
country was low, and in some places swampy, covered 
with high grass, and dotted all over with clumps of 
trees and shrubs, very much resembling an English 
park, but in certain places next to impassable in the 
wet season. About one o'clock they arrived at the 
Camastre, a broad estero, over which an enterprising 
native had thrown a bridge composed entirely of 
bamboo, and which, though fragile enough, served its 
purpose admirably. At three o'clock they reached 
the river Tepinaguasapa, emptying itself into the 
lake. Here they stopped to dine, and afterwards, 
pushing on, reached a casera about five o'clock, where 
they remained the night. Sleep, however, was out 
of the question. A tiger entered the enclosure and 
nearly caused a stampede amongst the cattle, whilst 
smaller animals, scarcely less active, gave the ex- 
plorers no rest until daylight. 

They started soon after dawn, having breakfasted 


off a good hot bowl of coffee boiled in milk, for at the 
casera or milking-place of a hacienda, milk is always 
obtainable in the morning, through never in the 
evening. During this day's journey the country was 
found to be more undulating. Palms were largely 
interspersed with the other trees and orchids. Just 
before twelve o'clock they arrived at Mayasan, where 
it was decided to remain to celebrate Christmas Day 
by a good dinner. The dueha of the hacienda was 
most kind, and made active exertions to provide pud- 
dings, consisting of mashed plantains and fresh pork, 
fried shreds of dried pork, with pork sausages and 
garlic ; fried eggs and garlic ; minced pork and garlic ; 
ripe plantains, boiled and fried; unripe plantains, 
boiled and roasted ; quajado, or bitter cream cheese ; 
milk in various stages of sourness ; pinol (chocolate 
and Indian corn mixed with water); jerked beef in 
thin strips ; tortillas de maiz (cakes of Indian corn) 
baked on a griddle ; and native cheese. This, for the 
country, magnificent bill of fare, did not afford the 
pleasure which the travellers had expected ; they were 
unanimous in detesting garlic ; neither did the bitter 
cheese and sour milk meet with their approval, while 
the stringy jerked beef got between their teeth, and 
was pronounced thoroughly indigestible; so that, al- 
together, they were not averse to renewing the jour- 
ney at three o'clock in the afternoon. At sunset they 
arrived at another hacienda, Las Animas, having 
passed through the same lovely scenery and crossed 
the river Oyate, abounding in alligators, although 
nearly twenty miles from the lake. Here they stayed 


the night; but before going to rest, they got up a 
little tertulia, or ball, to the great delight of the 
peons, who were besides treated with English songs, 
having ringing choruses. The effect must have been 
very striking, for one of them was heard to say, 
"When these English sing, it is like an earth- 
quake." "When the travellers lay down for the night 
on the stretched bullocks' -hides, which serve as 
beds in this country, they found themselves as much 
tormented as on the previous evening, and heartily 
wished they had stopped at Mayasan, by far the 
cleaner of the two haciendas. The following morning 
saw them early in the saddles. The country they passed 
through was more hilly than hitherto, and, as Mr. Paul 
observed, seemed to indicate mineral riches in no 
ordinary degree, — in fact, reminding him forcibly of 
California. A little before dusk they arrived at 
Acoyapa, the capital of the department, with a plaza 
and a church and some two thousand inhabitants. 
During the whole of the journey they constantly 
passed numbers of cattle, quietly grazing close to the 
track, and not the least wild. Acoyapa lies about 
halfway between the Chontales mines and Lake Nica- 
ragua, and is well situated as a resting-place midway. 
There are three tracks leading from it to the mines : 
one through Lovogo and Libertad, another directly 
across the country, and the third by way of Esquipula. 
They adopted the first, simply to examine the country, 
for it is by far the most roundabout route. At a little 
past eleven o'clock on the 27th they mounted, and, 
soon after passing Lovogo, began to ascend the ridge 


forming the watershed between the lakes and the At- 
lantic. On the summit of one of the hills they had a 
magnificent view — OmotejDec away to the 8.8. W., at 
least eighty miles distant ; Mombacho, quite distinct ; 
while inland the peak of Peha Blanca, about fifteen 
miles, pointed out the exact position of the mines. 
The surrounding country was found to be very bare 
of trees, and the many dry river-beds and barren- 
looking hills again recalled California most forcibly. 
After crossing this dividing ridge, they descended on 
savana lands, similar to those ridden over on the 
other side of Acoyapa. It was seven o'clock, quite 
dark, before they arrived at Libertad, a small, though 
thriving mining town, built on the Mico, a branch of 
the Blewfields river, as yet in its infancy, and num- 
bering about one thousand inhabitants, thirty -five of 
whom are foreigners — French, Germans, Americans, 
and English. They had thus occupied about eight 
hours on the journey, a distance of about twenty miles 
between Libertad and Acoyapa, but then their ani- 
mals had scarcely ever gone faster than a walk. 

From Libertad they made various excursions then 
and subsequently, from which the following informa- 
tion is 'gleaned. Eoughly speaking, the left bank of 
the Mico, for at least eight miles on its course from 
Libertad, may be taken as defining the edge of the 
primeval forest in the midst of which the mines are 
situated. Crossing the Mico, at a ford about five 
miles below Libertad, the forest is entered by a nar- 
row track or path, made by clearing away the trees 
and undergrowth, the stumps in many cases sticking 


out some feet above the ground. It would be quite 
impossible to give an adequate description of the vile- 
ness of this road, not alone because the unfortunate 
animals sink up to their bellies in the mud at every 
step, but because, in selecting the path, an utter con- 
tempt seems to have been felt for level ground ; every- 
where the road leading straight on, and over the high- 
est and steepest hills. The track, only eight miles 
from the Mico to the mines, is as difficult as all the rest 
of the route to San Ubaldo put together. It took a 
whole day to ride to the mines from Libertad. From 
Libertad there is another route to the mines ; one can 
at once cross the Mico, and proceed through a narrow 
track in the forest straight on, passing various work- 
ings on the way, such as Tigre, Calvario, Virginia, 
San Miguel, etc. This road is, in some respects, better 
than the one described, since it is not so directly 
across country as the other, and more attention has 
been paid to the grades ; but being very narrow, it is, 
and will continue to be, nothing but a series of mud- 
holes until, by the felling of trees, the sun's rays are 
admitted. The great want in Nicaragua is roads ; but, 
looking to the very heavy nature of the rains in the 
wet season, and for other substantial reasons, it would 
be far cheaper to make tramroads, which can be con- 
structed of very durable wood, the nispero for rails, and 
the canelo, stone, or leopard-wood for sleepers, at a 
cost of <^3 per running yard, or say ^5000 per En- 
glish statute mile. 

The San Juan Mine, as already stated, is the oldest 
in Chontales. It is close to Libertad, on the opposite 


bank of the Mico, and the machinery upon it is worked 
by that river. The system of mining is that com- 
mon throughout Spanish America, and consists of 
sinking a pozo about twenty-live feet, and then driv- 
ing a banco or adit, at right angles to the pozo for the 
same length, and so on until water is reached, when 
the works come to a standstill. The labour of bring- 
ing up the ore, however, is immense, and increases in 
proportion to the depth, the miners having to carry 
one hundred pounds weight of the ore to surface by 
climbing notched poles, with the tanate (or leather bag) 
supported on their backs by a strap across the fore- 
head. For this labour they are paid ^9*60 per month, 
and their board, amounting to another <8?8 ; total, 
^17-60, say £3. 15s. 

Several other mines were being worked during this 
first visit, some of which passed into the hands of the 
Foreign Lands, and subsequently, the Chontales Com- 
pany. They are beyond question rich in gold and 
silver, possessing broad veins, which it will require 
many years, with the most powerful and approved 
machinery, to exhaust. The whole of this district is 
covered with veins of gold and silver, of greater or 
less value, according to their breadth and the facility 
with which they can be worked and drained. The 
auriferous and argentiferous district of Chontales com- 
mences near the town of Libertad, in the mountain 
range, which runs nearly parallel to Lake Nicaragua ; 
it is many miles in width, and continues from this 
point towards the east to an unknown distance. To 
give an idea of how little is known of these unex- 


plored wilds, it may be mentioned that when a piquet 
was cut, defining the boundaries of only ten caballerias 
of land surrounding the Javali Mine, some splendid 
ground was discovered, and a plantel or water-power, 
surpassing that of the Javali itself. The gold-bear- 
ing lodes in the Chontales district, as at present 
known, have not been laid bare beyond a breadth of a 
mile and a half; the yield, on an average, is one ounce 
of gold and several ounces of silver to the ton. The 
lodes seem to be only two in number, parallel to each 
other, and striking E.KE. and W.S.W. Near the 
surface the quartz is friable, but it produces more 
visible gold with increased depth. These lodes thus 
present exceptions to the general mode of occurrence 
of gold in veins. 

In order to take advantage of what had thus been 
brought to public notice by Captain Pim and his ex- 
ploring party (as detailed in this long digression), it 
was necessary for Captain Holman and myself to act 
at once, as the rainy season was about to set in, and 
there was no time to be lost. We rode hard to get 
to our journey's end, and kept up through the day. 
The heat was so excessive that I arrived at Leon with 
a slight sunstroke, and was laid up for more than a 
week ; but, to save time, I dispatched Captain Holman 
to Chontales, with instructions to inspect whatever 
mines might be offered for sale. 

Just when he was about to start, our servant and 
guide, Cleto, was not to be found. The mystery of 
his disappearance was soon cleared up by a messenger 
arriving to inform us that he had been seized by the 


pressgang, and was for the present safely locked in 
prison, with a lot of other young fellows, until the 
authorities should decide what to do with him. For- 
tunately, Colonel Grcss, the Military Governor of 
Matagalpa, was staying at the same hotel as we did, 
and he was good enough to procure poor Cleto's dis- 
charge, and thus enable him to accompany Captain 
Holman to Chontales. 






By keeping as quiet as the numerous visitors who 
called upon me to offer mining and other properties 
would let me, and by constant application of cold 
water, I was able to put my poor head once more 
in something like working order; and as soon as I 
found myself sufficiently well I started for Chontales, 
quite by myself, as the servant I had engaged left me 
in the lurch the last moment. 

Passing and stopping for a few hours at Pueblo 
Nuevo, with its curious cactus fences, I put up for the 
night at Nagarote, where I measured a famous geni- 
saro-tree (Pithecolobium Saman, Benth.), belonging to 
the Mimosa tribe, of which the villagers are justly 
proud, and for which 200 dollars have been offered — a 
high price in a country where timber abounds; and 
yet they had the public spirit — the rarest of virtues in 


a Spanish American — to refuse the offer (others say the 
Government made them refuse). The tree, of which 
a woodcut is given in Squier's 'Central America,' is 
but 90 feet high ; but some of the lower branches, 
which are quite horizontal, are 92 feet long and 5 feet 
in diameter. The stem, 4 feet above the base, is 21 
feet in circumference, and the crown of the tree de- 
scribes a circle of 348 feet. A whole regiment of sol- 
diers may seek repose in its shade. 

If this vegetable monster had been a denizen of any 
part of the Eastern hemisphere, it wonld have become 
a fit object of tree-worship, that singular religion 
which flourished long before temples and churches 
were thought of, and which enjoyed a more extensive 
geographical range than any creed has done since. 
At one time it was diffused over the whole of Europe, 
Asia, Africa, and Polynesia, Throughout Europe and 
some islands of Polynesia it has been supplanted by 
Christianity ; in parts of Asia and Africa by Moham- 
medanism ; but nowhere have its rites been entirely 
suppressed. Deprived of their religions character 
and import, many of them have survived to this day, 
everywhere associated with mirth, good feeling, and 
festivity. No trace of tree-worship has been noticed 
amongst the natives of Australia, nor amongst those of 
the New World, thongh it had penetrated to the east- 
ernmost islands of Polynesia. The fact is most singu- 
lar, as no continent boasts of such magnificent and 
venerable trees as America. In the virgin forests of 
Brazil there are trunks of snch gigantic size that fifteen 
Indians with outstretched arms conld hardly span 

Chap. VII.— B. S.] TREE WORSHIP. 97 

them ; trunks which, by counting the concentric rings 
of their wood, must have been in existence when 
Homer wrote his immortal poem. In Upper California 
and along the whole north-western coast of America, 
the vegetation attains enormous dimensions and age. 
Three hundred feet is no uncommon height for a tree, 
and some of the Wellingtonias overtop St. Peter's, 
and almost rival the height of the pinnacle of Cheops, 
whilst their age is such that they must have been in 
full growth long before the Saxon invasion of Eng- 
land. Yet these peculiarities do not seem to have 
made any impression on the mind of the American 
Indian, evidently proving that size, venerable look, 
and age of trees are not sufficient to account for their 
worship by the largest section of the human race. 
Indeed^ tree-worship can scarcely have sprung from 
simple admiration. We have plenty of people among 
us with a strong leaning that way, and can pretty well 
judge of its range and scope. The Eev. Charles Young 
tells us that from childhood, nothing in nature had 
a greater attraction for him than trees, and a giant 
tree, such as that of which the bark existed at the 
Crystal Palace, had been the height of his ambition 
among the sights of nature. To gratify this feeling he 
made purposely a voyage to the Amazon, of which he 
has given an interesting account in Galton's i Vacation 
Tourists,' and one might suppose that when at last he 
found himself amongst the vegetable giants of Brazil, 
feelings superior to those of gratified curiosity would 
come to the surface. But there was nothing of the 
kind; even a botanical interest does not appear to 



have been roused in him. Mr. Young's predilection is 
rather prevalent in the United States, where travellers 
are almost bored to death by being taken to see big 
trees. Dr. Russell, who went thither for a very diffe- 
rent purpose, and during a period of great civil com- 
motion, repeatedly mentions his being forced to visit 
such objects ; and he tries to account for the admira- 
tion Americans have for their vegetable monsters by 
the fact that in the United States few things are old 
and venerable, and any exception to that rule is care- 
fully noticed. I remember, in passing through Cam- 
bridge, Massachusetts, seeing a black board, record- 
ing that the mayor and aldermen of that town had 
been such Yandals as to cut down an old and large 
tree which stood in the middle of the road, and under- 
neath was written with chalk, " Let this be remem- 
bered at the next election ! " 

Leaving Nagarote, and travelling about two hours, 
I came in sight of Lake Managua, along the shores 
of which the road passes for some miles, overshaded 
by huge trees, a fine breeze blowing across the water, 
and the waves breaking on the beach, and throwing 
up snags, branches of trees, and other matter. Here 
and there one obtains glimpses of the whole lake, to 
which bold volcanoes form a magnificent background. 

The next village was Matiaris de la Merced, where 
we stopped to breakfast. Whilst thus engaged, a man 
of the place came into the house, and, after steadily 
gazing at me for some time, rather startled me by the 
information that his brother was in Purgatory. All I 
could do was to assure him that I was very sorry to 


hear it. "But couldn't you do anything to get him 
out of it?" he asked. " I don't think that I have any 
direct influence in that quarter," was my reply. " Yes, 
you have," the stranger assured me. " I am going to 
have Masses said for his soul, and should feel obliged 
by your giving a few reals towards paying the cost." 
I was so much pleased with the novel and neat way 
of getting money out of me that I acceded to his 
wishes. He thanked me politely, but there was a look 
about the fellow that made me think that, after all, I had 
merely contributed towards relieving " a thirsty soul." 
A few more hours' ride brought me to Managua, 
which became, a few years ago, the capital of Nica- 
ragua, and which may be described as a large village 
of native huts, to which a few European houses have 
been added. The largest of these houses is the Palacio 
Nacional, with verandas and balconies, in which the 
public offices and the residence of the President of the 
Eepublic are situated. It overlooks the great square 
and the beautiful Lake of Managua, across which there 
always blows a fresh breeze. Fish is tolerably abun- 
dant in this lake, and the most esteemed are two very 
small kinds, belonging to the genera Tetragonopterus 
and AntherinichthyS) Sardina and Pepesca, the former 
being in season in March, the latter during the rainy 
months of the year.* The Sardina is the smallest of 
the two, and so much resembles whitebait in look, 

* The specimens of these fish, which I deposited in the collections 
of the British Museum, are held by Dr. Giinther to be the young of 
two species which grow much larger than they are eaten at Managua, 
a fact of which the natives are, I believe, quite unaware. 



size, and flavour, that at a dinner at Greenwich, given 
by Captain Pirn to General Martinez, the late Presi- 
dent of Nicaragua thought that English whitebait 
was the Sardina of his native lakes. The Pepesca is 
like the anchovy, and has not such a delicate flavour 
ras the Sardina. Both kinds are eaten fried, toasted, 
or made into cakes ; and they are caught during the 
daytime, and in hand-nets by men and women, who 
take their stand on steep parts of the lake's shores, 
and behind some green boughs put up to prevent the 
fish from seeing the reflection of their captors in the 

There is here absolutely nothing we associate with 
the idea of a capital of a country — no public libraries, 
museums, theatres, places of amusement, etc. About 
eight o'clock at night all is as quiet as in a city of 
the dead. By that time, the lamps which house- 
holders are compelled to light at sunset have con- 
sumed their allotted quantity of oil, and are expiring 
one after the other. Perhaps here and there a gam- 
bling party may prolong its unholy occupation ; but 
the generality of the inhabitants have gone to sleep — 
I was almost going to say, bed ; but that would be a 
misstatement, as there is no such thing as a bed in 
the whole country. You may see roughly-made 
wooden bedsteads, over which cow-hides are stretched ; 
but there is no bedding. Even the best families use 
no linen sheets. The "upper classes lie down with most 
of their clothes on ; and, in the morning, get up, 
shake, but do not wash themselves, light a cigarette 
and drink a cup of coffee. The so-called lower classes 


take off nearly every rag of clothing when they go to 
sleep, and lie down aronnd the houses, often in the 
middle of the yard. They do not seem to mind either 
the dew or the moon, and the blanket, which every 
one carries, is scarcely ever used, except just before 
dawn. All classes are dreadfully afraid of water; 
and whenever they see a European wash himself, es- 
pecially early in the morning, they never fail to tell 
him of the danger which he is running. I watched 
some of the dons, in whose company I was thrown 
for a week, and found they never touched water during 
the whole of that time. To my broad hints, they 
replied that they had a slight attack of fever, or a 
cold just approaching. 

With a few exceptions, the houses are very filthy, 
and full of vermin. This remark applies with full 
force to ISTew Segovia and Matagalpa, where a broom 
is a curiosity made of palm-leaves, when, on some 
festive occasion, the house is to be swept. I strongly 
advise future travellers to provide themselves with a 
tent, and thus escape the necessity of seeking any 
other shelter but their own. I could not help recalling 
to mind the neat houses and clean persons of the so- 
called Polynesian savages. After profiting for more 
than three centuries by Christianity and European 
civilization, the Central Americans compare unfavour- 
ably — socially, politically, intellectually, and morally 
— with the South Sea Islanders. 

Nicaraguans, though generally ignorant of the most 
elementary knowledge, for instance, talking of Great 
Britain and the United States as one country, and of 


their inhabitants as heathens who have never had the 
benefit of Christian sacraments, believe their republic 
to be in the van of civilization ; and they are never 
tired of asking foreigners to confirm that delusion. 
I tried to escape telling such an untruth by dwelling 
on the vast resources and great natural beauties of 
Nicaragua, and avoiding the point they wished me to 
be eloquent upon ; because, like all Spanish Ameri- 
cans, they are extremely thin-skinned, and regard 
every unfavourable opinion as an ill-natured depre- 
ciation. One who desires to stand well with them 
should therefore be careful of what he says and writes. 
Travellers who have been simple-minded enough to 
speak out, have had their books burnt in the public 
square, as such things ought to be in countries the 
history of which has not yet passed the period of 
the dark ages. 

I had several interviews with the President of the 
Eepublic, General Martinez, to whom the country is 
indebted for ten years of peace. I found that he and 
the Ministers of State were men of intelligence, 
and were fully impressed with the high responsibili- 
ties they had undertaken. In early life General Mar- 
tinez travelled over every part of his native country, 
and thereby obtained that practical knowledge which, 
in after years, was destined to be of incalculable value. 
Actuated by that patriotism which every true lover of 
his country must feel in her hour of need, he joined, 
in 1854, the army formed to repel the invaders under 
the filibuster "Walker. That he was eminently suc- 
cessful, both on the field of battle and in the Cabinet, 


is proved by the fact that in 1856 he was made Pro- 
visional President, "while in the following year peace 
having been restored, mainly through his instrumen- 
tality, he was unanimously elected President. During 
the years 1857-62 he filled the chair as Chief Magis- 
trate of Nicaragua with ability and satisfaction, not 
only to his own countrymen, but to those foreigners 
who were brought to Nicaragua either by business or 
pleasure. At the expiration of his term of office he 
was re-elected President, and occupied that position 
until February, 1867, when Don Fernando Gusman 
assumed office. It was not, and never will be, the 
fate of any man, however able, to take a prominent 
part in the government of his country without experi- 
encing trials and troubles. In 1863, Salvador, in alli- 
ance with Honduras, declared war against Nicaragua. 
In April of that year the allies invaded the Eepublic 
and marched straight on Leon ; in the meantime the 
standard of revolt was raised in the southern part of 
Nicaragua, and thus the President found himself sur- 
rounded by foes on all sides. But the man who mainly 
contributed to the downfall of "Walker was equal to 
the occasion. The battle of Leon finished the campaign 
in favour of the Government, — a battle in which the 
General displayed great gallantry. During his pro- 
tracted career of power, General Martinez never, in a 
single instance, was guilty of sacrificing the life of a 
fellow-creature in cold blood. Besides the humanity 
which so thoroughly characterizes him, he understood 
in how great a degree a nation's happiness and great- 
ness depends on commercial prosperity, and never lost 


an opportunity of encouraging foreign commerce and 

Early in the morning, I generally went with Don 
Antonio Silva, a Guatemalan gentleman, who held the 
office of Minister of Culture, to bathe in the lake or 
rather lagoon of Tiscapa, which is about a mile and a 
half from town, and occupies the bottom of a deep 
crater-like valley, surrounded by trees. An Indian 
tradition asserts, that once upon a time, this lagoon 
was brought from Salvador in a gourd-shell. If so, it 
must have been a pretty large one, and difficult to 
carry. But what of that ? Once call fancy to your 
aid, and all things are easy of accomplishment. Tis- 
capa is said to be inhabited by only one alligator, and 
has no known outlet. The water is generally very 
clear, but at times it becomes turbid and smells badly, 
in fact, undergoes fermentation, or, as the people ex- 
press it, " gets sick." Whilst the sickness lasts, the 
inhabitants carefully avoid all contact with the la- 
goon ; but no sooner has the water assumed its usual 
appearance, than men and women flock to it for wash- 
ing and bathing purposes, and there is, especially early 
in the mornings, rather an animated scene. Women, 
old and young, of all colours, and in a state of almost 
absolute nudity, are busy washing clothes on large flat 
stones ; men swimming about, or sitting on their rugs 
and pillons preparatory for a plunge into the cooling 
water ; horses and mules are driven in to be bathed 
at the same time as their masters. If Tiscapa were a 
little nearer to town, it would be visited much more 
than it is, as the place is really very pretty. But it is 

Chap. VII.— B. 8.] ARRIVAL AT LIBERTAD. 105 

just too far to walk, and so the bulk of the Mana- 
guans wash and bathe in the lake.* 

A ride of three days from Managua, by way of 
Tipitapa and Juigalpa, brought me to Chontales, the 
finest and most fertile district of Nicaragua. Ap- 
proaching it from the west, as I did, you find your- 
self amongst rich undulating grass lands, which even 
at the end of the dry season retain their verdure and 
afford pasture to thousands of heads of cattle. On 
nearing Libertad, the ground becomes more elevated, 
the climate considerably cooler, and you get occa- 
sional glimpses of the Lake of Granada, with its 
islands and majestic volcanoes. Libertad is rapidly 
rising to the dignity of a town, and is now full of 
people from all parts. House-room is very limited, 
and I had difficulty in finding even a place for my 
hammock. Close to Libertad commences a dense vir- 
gin forest, which extends to the Atlantic seaboard, 

* " At seventeen miles from Tipitapa, and one mile and one-eighth 
from the city of Managua, is the Lake of Tiscapa, which is circular, 
a quarter of a mile in diameter, surrounded by almost perpendicular 
cliffs, 80 feet high, and has every appearance of being the crater of 
an extinct volcano. It has no outlet ; but its water is on the same 
level as Lake Managua, although its depth, as I ascertained by sound- 
ing, was 150 feet in the centre. Its water, of which the specific 
gravity is 13, is highly charged with sulphuretted hydrogen, and, like 
that of Tipitapa, contains neither muriates nor sulphates. The pro- 
portion of sulphuretted hydrogen in the atmosphere contiguous to the 
lake varies considerably, the disagreeable smell being at times almost 
intolerable. A curious fact in connection with this lake is the almost 
constant presence of a large quantity of dead fish on its margin, which 
attracts a number of turkey-buzzards." — Copt. Bedford Pirn's Paper 
" On the Mineral and Thermal Waters of Nicaragua" read before the 
British Association, at Bath, in 1864. 


and a singular feature of which is, that the stems of 
the trees are of a very light grey, as well indicated by 
Mr. George Chambers in some of his clever sketches ; 
but the correctness of which I was inclined to doubt 
until I had actually seen it in the landscape itself. 





The stillness of the virgin forests, which to this day 
cover a great part of Chontales, would probably not 
have been broken for generations if it had not been 
for the discovery of a very productive gold-mine, 
which, until recently, was the property of a Spanish 
American, and has now passed into the hands of 
English capitalists. For many years the first owner 
had drawn none but blanks in the great lottery of 
mining enterprise. Lucas Quiroz — for that was his 
name — had been one of the first settlers at Libertad, 
a place which derived its name from a grog-shop 
where everybody had liberty to do pretty much as 
he liked. One day, when hopelessly embarrassed, a 
man with the image of St. Peter passed the house, 
asking whether anybody wished to offer up prayers 
to the saint. The poorer classes of Nicaragua do not 
always give money to these wandering image-bearers, 


but frequently whatever good things they may have 
in their possession, such as cacao beans, chocolate, 
lumps of sugar, wax candles, etc. ; and the wife of the 
impoverished miner could lay her hands on nothing 
better than a piece of scented soap. But she promised 
to present a chalice to the village church if St. Peter 
would let her husband, who had been so singularly 
unfortunate in gold-mining, find a good silver-mine. 
The husband having fully ratified the vow, both 
awaited with confidence the asked-for intercession. 
They were not doomed to be disappointed. A short 
time afterwards an Indian called, and the miner's mi- 
serable plight became at once the topic of conversa- 
tion. " If it is rich stones you are harping after," said 
the Indian, "I can take you to a place where you shall 
find enough to last you a lifetime." The offer was 
gladly accepted, on condition that if the place turned 
out as rich as represented the Indian should receive 
three cows for showing it. Chopping-knife in hand, 
and a few provisions on their back, the two entered 
the thick virgin forest which stretches from Libertad 
to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. After travelling 
several leagues, they arrived at a place where the 
Indians were in the habit of shooting javalis, a kind 
of wild boar. "Will this satisfy you?" asked the 
guide triumphantly. The miner was dumfounded. 
After years of fruitless toil and search, he saw at last 
before him a property combining all the features of a 
good mine. On the slopes of a hill rising five hun- 
dred feet above a river-bed, and ensuring a natural 
drainage, he found a wide lode of quartz rock, 



rich in silver and gold, and traceable for several 
miles ; magnificent waterfalls available for setting in 
motion the most powerful machinery; and in every 
direction timber of excellent quality for mining pur- 
poses. This was the now famous Javali mine, the ore 
of which up to that time was taken out in small quan- 
tities only, and ground to powder in mortars cut out of 
the solid rock of the river-bed, whenever the Indians 
required gold for trading purposes. Hastening to re- 
gister his claims officially, the enraptured miner tried 
to raise the funds necessary for turning this valuable 
discovery to account ; but his credit was so low that 
not one of his countrymen would lend him a few dol- 
lars to buy picks and shovels. He would have been 
obliged to abandon all thought of working the mine 
if a generous foreigner had not come forward with 
the necessary funds, and also stood between him 
and his relentless creditors, when the richness of 
the Javali came to be known. In a short time the 
miner was able to pay off all his and his father's 
debts, and purchase houses and estates. The chalice 
promised to St. Peter's shrine was not forgotten. It 
was made of thirty- six ounces of gold, and by the 
hands of a German goldsmith, under whose hospit- 
able roof the miner was living when his wife regis- 
tered the vow. 

The mine proper consists solely of a strip of land, 
200 varas wide, by 1000 varas long, running nearly 
due east and west, and its water-power, or "plantel," 
is derived from the Javali river, which, within a 
few yards of the vein, takes a leap of about 150 feet. 


This narrow strip of land is traversed throughout 
its entire length by a ridge, varying in height above 
the general level of the ground at its base. At 
its eastern limit, which is the point where the vein 
is crossed by the Javali river, the elevation is very 
low, but it increases towards the westward, so that at 
this end its height is more than 200 feet. Through 
the central line of this ridge runs the lode ; in fact, 
the ridge is the lode itself, with a slight covering of 
earth and vegetable matter. This undulation, or rise, 
affords great convenience for driving levels on the 
lode far below any of the present old workings, and 
thereby giving great advantages for bringing the ore to 
the mills at any level desired. The workings are com- 
paratively superficial, save, perhaps, those of the So- 
corro, the bottom of which is 150 feet from the sur- 
face, consisting of 10 pozos and bancos. The advan- 
tages thus afforded for the cheap and complete drain- 
age and ventilation of the mine are very great. Such 
an elevation of the lode secures, in the most perfect 
manner, the complete drainage of all the works which 
can be carried on in this mine for many years to come. 
The ledge slopes from a point near its western limit 
462 feet above the water level, to the bed of the Javali 
river, at its eastern boundary. The lowest tunnel 
to be driven from this latter level would, of course, 
drain all the works above it, and keep them perfectly 
dry. A few hundred yards lower down the river there 
is another fall, of 160 feet, so that by driving a cross- 
cut from the foot of this fall into the Javali lode, 
which continues on the other side of the river in the 


same direction, the drainage of this second section 
would, undoubtedly, be secured, and that continuation, 
or cabazeles, as it is called, could also be worked, at 
how great a profit will be apparent when it is men- 
tioned that the lode is quite as broad and rich on this 
side of the river as on the opposite bank. Those who 
have had to contend against the difficulties and great 
expenditure caused by a flooded mine can thoroughly 
estimate the value and importance of so favourable a 
location ; indeed, it is not too much to say that here 
is the proper spot to commence operations on a large 
scale. The Javali river is, and must continue, the 
only real basis of mining operations in this district, 
until further explorations disclose other "plantels" 
or water-power of a like force. 

The quality of the ore, in respect to the ease with 
which it may be ground, is very good ; in some parts 
of the vein it is more or less hard, but the majority of 
it is quite soft and friable; the hardest of it could 
without difficulty be reduced by proper stamps and 
modern machinery, even without calcination. The 
ley or percentage of gold in the ore seems to increase 
with the descent from the surface. The supply may 
be said to be inexhaustible. The width of the vein 
varies from two to as many as twenty yards ; taking 
the average width as only three, there would then 
be contained in this first section of the lode before 
spoken of as the one situated above the water line 
of the Javali river, not less than 231,957 cubic yards 
of ore, or about 475,512 tons. In the second section 
there is contained, assuming the same average width 


of the vein, 100,000 cubic yards, or 328,000 tons, all 
of which will probably yield at least a general average 
of one ounce per ton, and perhaps more, for the quality 
of the ore improves the deeper the mine is driven. 
But when large quantities of auriferous quartz can be 
obtained in a country where the price of labour is not 
high, as in Nicaragua, it is not necessary that it should 
contain a large amount of the precious metal in order 
to render its treatment, by the aid of well-constructed 
machinery, remunerative. At Schemnitz, in Hungary, 
the managers extract with advantage one- eighth of 
an ounce per ton ; and the St. John del Rey, in the 
Brazils, yields a noble profit with five-eighths of an 
ounce per ton. Again, the average yield of gold from 
the quartz reefs in the colony of Victoria, for the year 
1866, was 10 dwts. 16^ grs., a little more than half 
an ounce to the ton of quartz, at a cost of raising, 
crushing, and management of about 13s. per ton; the 
actual profit would, therefore, be about 17s. on every 
ton of quartz crushed. The very tailings of the 
Javali, which have now accumulated for many years, 
are equal in richness to the quartz reefs of Australia, 
the yield being 11 oz. of silver, and J.oz. of gold to 
the ton. 

The discovery of the Javali, or rather the betrayal 
of its existence by the Indian, led to the exploration 
of the surrounding district, and the finding of more 
than three hundred mines of more or less importance. 
A proper geological survey of this undoubtedly rich 
district, rich in both silver and gold, has, however, as 
yet not been attempted, though it might be expected 



to lead to results which would more than a thousand- 
fold repay the expenses of such an undertaking. But 
Nicaragua, like most parts of Spanish America where 
the foreign element has as yet not penetrated, is so poor 
that it has no funds for projects of this nature. Though 
all mines are national property, the discovery and 
tracing of them out is entirely left to the individual 
enterprise of people who have acquired a certain 
amount of empirical geological knowledge, and who, 
when they find rich spots, make them their own by 
registering them officially. As long as the mines are 
worked, and worked properly, the title thus acquired 
is undisputed ; but if for two years no work is done 
in them, they revert once more to the nation, and may 
be registered anew. Some of the most important 
mines of Chontales are now owned by foreigners, who 
are gradually introducing a better system of working 
them. The natives still go on mining in the most ex- 
pensive and primitive manner. Deep shafts they can- 
not sink, because they do not know how to timber the 
ground ; and, not having deep shafts, they cannot 
avail themselves of even such a simple contrivance as 
a tackle, and have to carry all the ore on the backs of 
men in leather bags fastened by a strap round the 
forehead. A man carries about a hundredweight at 
a time, and has to climb up steep trunks of trees in 
which notches have been cut. In damp weather 
these primitive ladders are very slippery, and causs 
numerous accidents. The ore is ground by water- 
power, and in arrastras, heavy rocks of quartz and 
basalt being used for crushing. 



Many of tlio miners are natives of the neighbouring 
Bepublic of Honduras. They are better workmen than 
the Nicaraguans, but enjoy the reputation of being 
great thieves. Amongst them are some who practise 
the revolting habit of earth-eating. These earth-eaters 
do not constitute a separate tribe, but are principally 
negroes and half-castes, seldom Indians, never pure 
whites. They are easily recognized by their pecu- 
liarly livid and sickly colour. Their nickname, "toros" 
(bulls), must have been given them, not on account of 
their bodily strength, for they are poor emaciated 
people, but more probably because they lick the 
ground, as bulls are sometimes wont to do. The 
earth which they eat may be compared with the edible 
earth of Syria, to which Ehrenberg's researches apply, 
and with that mentioned some time back by the 
' Pharmaceutical Journal.' It is a Steatitic clay, and 
called "jabonada," because when moist it has a certain 
soapiness, and causes some foam when brought into 
contact with the saliva. It is cream-coloured, often 
tinged with pink, and has a slightly fatty taste. 
"When well selected there is no sand in the pieces, 
the whole substance dissolving on the tongue; but, 
as tit-bits of this kind are not always obtainable, a 
slight admixture of sand is not objected to. Earth- 
eating is a vice which, like any other vice, grows 
upon people, and when carried to excess kills its 
victims without mercy. The same arguments which 
are applied to the suppression of drunkenness are 
applied, generally with as little success, to earth- 
eating. One of the miners in the Javali gave me 

Chap. VIII.— B. S.] EARTH-EATERS. 1 1 5 

a full account of the way lie used to go on. He was 
about twelve years old when he took to the habit, 
and carried it on till he was twenty-five. Com- 
mencing little by little, he ultimately ate several 
pounds a day, and he lived successive days upon no- 
thing but earth, always drinking a good quantity of 
water, and feeling little or no appetite for any other 
kind of food. At most times he used to eat the earth 
as it came from the mine, but sometimes he would 
vary the flavour by an admixture of common brown 
sugar, or by toasting the clay over the fire. At last 
he carried earth-eating to such an excess that he be- 
came seriously ill, and had to give it up to save his 
life. More than two years had elapsed since that 
time, but he retained nevertheless the livid look pecu- 
liar to earth-eaters, and thought that he should never 
regain his natural colour. It is very difficult to say 
what proportion of the mining population of Chontales 
are addicted to earth-eating. As the majority regard 
it as a vice, many practise it on the sly ; but from my 
own observation I should say they amount to about 
ten per cent. 

In these mountains a species of caoutchouc (known 
here by its Aztec name of Ule), vanilla, sarsaparilla, 
quassia, fustic, and other valuable woods abound, and 
there are many vegetable productions which are rare 
or perfectly new to science. Amongst the most note- 
worthy are a species of Marcgraavia, every umbel of 
which terminates in ^ve flower-bearing pitchers filled 
with water, a large white Sobralia, and a tree (Herrania 
purpurea, Decaisne) with fingered leaves and small 

i 2 


round seeds, which are occasionally offered for sale by 
the Indians, and from which chocolate of a flavour 
superior to that of the common cacao is manufac- 
tured. Some day this chocolate-tree will doubtless be 
extensively grown by Europeans ; and, as it occurs in 
these woods together with the common naturalized 
cacao, it may have been cultivated when this district 
was more thickly inhabited by Indians than it is at 

The Chontales gold region appears to be a favourite 
haunt of plants with variegated leaves. There are 
some fine species of Costus (including, besides the 
well-known C. zebrinns and Malortianus, several new 
ones) ; two beautiful species of Cissus, one with bright 
scarlet flowers (introduced by me into English gar- 
dens); and several Marantacese and Aroidese. But 
the finest of these is the one I have named Cyrtodeira 
Chontalensis, a Gesneraceous plant. The leaves are 
purple on the under side, and on the upper light green 
(like those of Begonia smaragdina), with very dark 
green blotches. The flowers, which appear in Novem- 
ber and December, are lilac, and as large as a crown 
. piece, with a yellow centre, and a whitish tube. The 
roots are fibrous (not catkin-like rhizomes, as in the 
Achimenes tribe) ; and in habit the plant resembles 
the only other known species of the genus (0. cu- 
preata, Hanstein), which, however, has smaller and 
scarlet flowers, and a hairy ovary. It was found at 
the Pavon end of the Javali Mine, where it grew in 
only a very small spot — shady groves on the banks of 
a rivulet. Although we became afterwards well ac- 


quainted with the vegetation of the district, we never 
met the plant anywhere bnt there ; and after we had 
taken up sixty specimens, and planted them in a mi- 
niature Wardian case, fire was set to the very spot 
where the Cyrtodeira grew, for the purpose of clearing 
it. The sixty specimens readily took root, and on our 
departure a boy was engaged to carry them on his 
saddle before him to Leon, a distance of about eighty 
leagues. All went on well, till one evening darkness 
overtook us on the immense grassy plains of Tipitapa, 
and the boy's mule fell into one of those wide cracks 
which during the dry season in the tropics always form 
where the ground is clayey. Down came the Wardian 
case with a heavy crash, and one-half of our plants 
were lost. The other half looked well enough till 
within two miles of the port of embarkation, when the 
waggon in which, for greater safety's sake, they had 
been placed, went into a deep hole, and turned right 
over. This time all but six specimens were destroyed, 
and these were so much injured that when we arrived 
at London, and handed them to Mr. W. Bull, of Chelsea, 
the enterprising plant merchant, only one was found 
to be in a sound condition ; but that one has become 
the progenitor of a numerous race, which now orna- 
ments our hothouses. 

This little narrative shows what trouble the intro- 
duction of new plants requires, and how unforeseen 
accidents will interfere with well-devised plans, but it 
also reminds us of the changes constantly goiug on in 
the nature and aspect of the vegetation of the inha- 
bited globe, changes so great that it is almost as diffi- 


cult to conjure up by pen or pencil the flora of a 
country as it was in times gone by, as it would be 
that of any former geological period. By not taking 
these changes into account, those who endeavour to 
give us vivid pictures of the past — historians, histo- 
rical painters, and romance writers — often fall into the 
error of using, as a background for ancient historical 
events, the country in which they happened in its 
modern aspect, an anachronism as painful to a botanist 
as a wrong note is to a musical ear. In a well-known 
print, " Joseph Sold by his Brethren," the artist has 
carefully represented the date-palm and other features 
of the desert, but he has committed the blunder of 
introducing the American cactus, which did not reach 
Syria till several thousand years after the time of 
Joseph's death. Some time ago, I saw in a Euro- 
pean capital a play founded upon some incident of 
early Eoman history. The stage accessories had been 
executed with pre-Eafaelitic accuracy. There was the 
Eoman landscape in all its beauty; the melancholy 
cypress, and the stone-pine of Italy, the outline of 
which Pliny so happily compares with the smoke of 
Vesuvius as it issued from the crater 1800 years ago, 
and still issues in our year of grace, but there was 
also, unfortunately, the American aloe (Agave), which 
at present forms such a prominent feature of many a 
South European landscape, but was confined to the 
New World before the days of Columbus. 

Amongst plants a silent struggle for the possession 
of the soil is constantly going on. Even when no 
foreign elements are introduced into the flora of a 


country ? it is ever at work ; but it becomes much more 
intense when species from abroad appear on the field, 
or, at all events, from our being able to recognize at a 
glance the opposing elements, we are in a better posi- 
tion to watch the struggle and its issue. A prominent 
example of such a battlefield, if so martial a term be 
admissible, is the island of St. Helena, where the na- 
tive vegetation is at present almost entirely superseded 
by a foreign one, some of the singular indigenous tree- 
Composites now existing in only one or two old spe- 
cimens. In many parts of the Cape of Good Hope 
an equally great change is noted, and many species 
are in danger of becoming altogether extinct. I 
remember the venerable explorers, Ecklon and Zeyher, 
taking me to the foot of Table Mountain to see a few 
silver-trees (Leucadendron argenteum), which, they 
assured me, were the only specimens in South Africa. 
Dr. Hooker, in his suggestive papers c On the Struggle 
of Existence amongst Plants,' has well pointed out 
the rapid spread of European species in New Zealand, 
and the displacement of the indigenous. The altera- 
tions wrought in Europe by the naturalization of 
foreign plants are familiar to us all ; and Central Ame- 
rica and many other parts of the inhabited globe 
might be pointed out where the same phenomenon is 
observable. Foreign plants deport themselves towards 
the indigenous as an invading army does towards the 
inhabitants of a hostile country. Before the bulk of 
the army advances, outposts make their appearance, 
consisting of the most daring and hardy fellows. In 
the vegetable kingdom the office of outposts is per- 


formed by those plants which we call weeds, the real 
nature of which is as yet but little understood. 

Considering that weeds are found in every part of 
the inhabited world, it is singular that so few lan- 
guages have a full equivalent of the term " tveed," 
and that so useful an idea as that popularly embodied 
in it should not have been, long ere this, translated 
into science. The Latin u herb a" or Spanish " yerba" 
certainly do include our 'weed;' but whilst every 
weed is a herb, not every herb is a weed. What, 
then, is the real meaning of l weed ' ? Dictionary 
writers do not help us much by qualifying ' weed ' as a 
mean or troublesome herb, for the popular mind asso- 
ciates with the nature of a weed several other charac- 
teristics not mentioned by them. We talk of plants 
bearing " a weedy look," and though most of us know 
what that means, nobody has as yet made it clear to 
those who do not know. The term 6 weedy ' would be 
misapplied to the aloes, but fit exactly the generality 
of the AlsinecB. We would never say of the heather 
that it had a weedy look ; in fact, the term would 
never suggest itself in connection with that species. 
The vegetation of New Holland would not be de- 
scribed, speaking generally, as bearing a weedy look, 
whilst that of the lower coast region of most tropical 
countries could scarcely be better defined than by that 
phrase. One of the most essential characteristics of a 
weed is, therefore, that it should look weedy, or, in 
other words, that its stem and foliage should be 
neither too fleshy nor too leathery, but of a soft, flaccid, 
or membranaceous description. 


Another important characteristic is, that a herb, to 
be considered a weed, should propagate itself either 
by seeds or buds at a rapid rate, grow fast, and over- 
power those plants which may check its progress. I 
take it to be, that this characteristic is emphatically 
conveyed in the etymology of the word "weed," 
which, through the Low German verbs u wuen " (to 
weed), the Bavarian u wuteln" and " wuchern" (= to 
spread or multiply with more than ordinary rapidity), 
is connected with Wodan or Wuotan (—- Odin), the 
name of the supreme, all-overpowering, irresistible 
Saxon god, to whom Wednesday, or Wodensday, is 

A third, and perhaps more important characteristic 
is, that a weed appears only on ground which, either by 
cultivation or some other manner, has been disturbed 
by man. Virgin lands, such as the tops of high 
mountains, have no weeds ; I saw none in the Arctic 
regions except Tetrapoma pyriformis, a Siberian im- 
migrant, which was growing at the Eussian outpost 
in Norton Sound, on the only cultivated patch I met 
with in that country. "Weeds are therefore essentially 
intruders, colonists, foreigners, or whatever one likes 
to call them, — never endemic children of the soil on 
which they flourish. They may have come from the 
immediate neighbourhood, but they have always been 
translated, though the distances may have been but 
limited. Weeds have therefore to bear up against all 
the prejudice which the popular mind in all countries 

* This view is borne out by Jacob Grimm, * Deutsche Mvtliologie, 
2nd edit. vol. i. chap. vii. 


invariably entertains against foreigners. The German 
contemptuously calls weed " Unkraut" which is the 
antithesis of Kraut (= herb), and means "no herb," 
or "strange herb," just as Ding (== thing) is the 
antithesis of TJnding (= strange thing, or monster), 
thus clearly expressing that weeds do not belong to 
the herbs of the country, but are something strange, 
unrecognized. Sometimes national prejudices are 
pointedly expressed in the popular names given to 
newly imported weeds. Thus the North American 
Indian names Plantago major , the "Footsteps of the 
White Man ;" and the German, the troublesome Peru- 
vian Galinsoga parviflora, " Frenchman's "Weed," 
though the French are probably quite innocent of its 
having become a pest in the sandy districts of Prussia 
and adjacent States. 

Have the plants we designate "weeds" always 
been weeds? is a question to be answered. If the 
definition of the term given, and the views taken of 
the nature of these plants be correct, they cannot 
have been weeds in their native country; and the 
deportment of weeds on being translated from one 
part of the world to another would seem to bear out 
this view. There are no complaints against our 
watercress for impeding our rivers and rivulets ; 
though assisted by cultivation, it is by no means 
a common or troublesome weed. But look at it in 
New Zealand, where it threatens to choke up al- 
together the still rivers, and where its stems often 
attain twelve feet in length, and three-quarters of an 
inch in diameter. Galinsoga parviflora is local enough 



in Peru ; but mark its extraordinary increase in 
Europe since it effected its escape from our botanic 
gardens ! 

But if weeds have to surmount the obstacles which 
new-comers in all countries have to face, they also 
benefit by the advantages derived from their organiza- 
tion coming for the first time in contact with a soil 
to them altogether virgin. This contact acts so power- 
fully that, provided the climate and other conditions 
required for the existence of a species are fulfilled, 
the new-comers will invariably become the victors in 
the great struggle for existence which immediately 
commences between them and the natives. This law 
seems to apply to the whole of organized nature, and 
man's own history furnishes some of the most striking 
proofs of its catholicity. The whites and blacks have 
usurped the place of the American Indians, and the 
light-skinned Polynesian, though a dying-out race in 
the Hawaiian Islands and New Zealand since the 
arrival of new-comers of Teutonic origin, has never- 
theless managed to establish his ascendancy over the 
indigenous dark-skinned Papuan in many parts of Viti. 
New-comers, always provided they gain a firm footing, 
have ever the advantage over those species or races 
established in the country before their arrival. This 
is well known to farmers and gardeners, and induces 
them to procure from distant parts stock and seeds of 
kinds identical with those already in their possession, 
because they know that the newly imported succeed 
better than their own. The law is further illustrated 
by a system of rotation crops, in which one kind of 


plants is most advantageously replaced by another; 
and here, at last, we get at a chemical explanation of 
the advantages enjoyed by new-comers, and why, in 
a struggle for existence between them and the natives 
of the soil, they must ever come off victorious. 

A weed, then, in our language, signifies a na- 
turalized herb, which has a soft and membranaceous 
look, grows fast, propagates its kind with rapidity, 
and spreads, to the prejudice of endemic or cultivated 
plants, in places in some way or other disturbed by 
the agency of man. 

Whence do different countries derive their weeds ? 
is a question that naturally suggests itself. Off-hand, 
one would be inclined to answer that all countries 
indiscriminately, having a climate similar to that of 
Europe, would be the sources whence Europe derived 
its weeds. And to a great measure this is true. 
Many European weeds have an undoubted Asiatic and 
African origin ; but if any part of the world might 
be expected to have supplied its due share, it would 
be the temperate parts of the North American con- 
tinent, where many European plants, such as thistles, 
have become naturalized to such an extent as to 
have become a perfect pest. From the constant in- 
tercourse between Europe and North America, and 
the number of North American plants cultivated in 
European gardens, one would have expected a great 
many North American plants to be naturalized in 
Europe; but this is by no means the case. North 
American plants, however easily grown in European 
gardens, do not show any great disposition to escape • 


from cultivation, and drive the native flora off the 
field. The same is true of Australian plants ; and 
this contrasts strangely with the extraordinary rapidity 
with which European plants spread in the southern 
hemisphere, supplanting in New Zealand, New Hol- 
land, etc., the native vegetation. " Hitherto," says 
Dr. Hooker, "no consideration of climate, soil, or 
circumstance has sufficed to explain this phenomenon." 
If what I have traced out, that new arrivals have 
always the advantage over old, be a sound law, it 
ought to apply to this case as well as the others ; and 
to all appearances it does. We know, from the re- 
searches of Unger, Ettingshausen, and others, that 
a vegetation very similar to, not to say absolutely 
identical with, that of the southern parts of the United 
States, existed in Europe at the Lignite period, and 
that a vegetation very similar to, if not absolutely 
identical with that of Australia, existed in Europe at 
the Eocene period. But we have no knowledge of 
the existence of a European Flora in either North 
America or in Australia, at any former geological 
periods. Plants from Australia and North America 
would therefore not enjoy in Europe the advantage of 
new-comers, but would rather be like wanderers re- 
turning to a country where their part has already been 
played out. 

You still see pure Indians in the Chontales Moun- 
tains, but they are not numerous, and are retiring 
into the solitude of the forest as fast as the white 
men, or the more numerous half-castes, approach. 
Twenty years ago there are said to have been many 


Indian families abont Libertad, but there are now a 
few only. Earlier still, centuries, ages ago, there must 
haye been a large Indian population in the grassy 
districts of Chontales. A great number of ancient 
tombs, met with in almost every direction, sufficiently 
attest this. These tombs are found in plains having 
a rocky soil and good drainage. The Indians never 
selected ill-drained sites for their villages, and many 
of the most healthy towns built by the Spaniards in 
America are in localities originally selected by Indians. 
From what I saw, it would seem that in these ancient 
Chontales villages the houses were in the centre, and 
the tombs, placed in circles around, formed the out- 
skirts. The tombs are of different heights and sizes. 
One of the largest, which was about twenty feet long 
by twelve feet wide and eight feet above ground, I 
saw opened by people in search of golden ornaments. 
It took four men about a fortnight to remove the heap 
of stones placed on the top of the grave, and to lay 
the grave itself completely open. No gold was found, 
but a round pillar, seven feet high and eighteen inches 
across, which was standing upright in the centre of 
the tomb, a hand-mill for grinding corn or cacao, in 
shape like those still in use in the country, a knife 
ten inches long, a hatchet like a reaping-hook, of 
which I give a woodcut, and a tiger's head (natural 
size) — all of stone— and, besides, some broken crocks 
and a quantity of balls as large as peas, and made 
of burnt clay. In some instances gold ornaments 
have been met with, but not in sufficient num- 
bers to offer much inducement for people to destroy 

Chap. VIII.— B. S.] 



these venerable relies. Men of science will, therefore, 
find abont Juigalpa, San Diego, Libertad, and other 
places a sufficiently large number to enable them to 
throw some light upon the stone age of these extinct 

The Indians who before the Spanish conquest in- 
habited Nicaragua did not construct any large tem- 
ples or other stone buildings, as some of the other 
natives of Central America have done. But in some 
parts they cut stone figures of considerable dimen- 
sions, some of them reminding us of those of Easter 
Island, in the Pacific. These stone figures, often of 
colossal size, are of two different descriptions, — those 
which closely represent the human figure in dignified 
repose, and have a mild, inoffensive expression of 
countenance, and those which do not so closely repre- 
sent the human figure, often a combination between 
man and animal, and have a wild, terrifying expres- 
sion of countenance. Illustrations of both, from 
Mr. George Chambers's sketches, are given. Some 
people have supposed that the mild-looking figures 



may be intended as genuine representations of de- 
parted Indian chiefs, and the terrifying ones as idols 
calculated to overawe. But it is just possible that 
the figures with mild expression are idols worshipped 
by the Mcaraguans previous to the Aztec (Mexican) 
conquest, which doubtless brought along with it the 
bloody rites of the dominant religion of the plains of 
Anahuac, of which Cortez and his companions were 
the unwilling spectators during their memorable stay 
in Mexico. A most finished piece of sculpture I found 
near the Limon mine in New Segovia. It was a large 
font broken in halves, having on the outside a human 
face representing the sun, the hair doing duty for the 
rays, as shown in the rough cut below. But what 
struck me as singular was the circumstance that there 
was a long pair of moustaches, such as no Indian ever 
had; and the question at once suggested itself, Did 
fancy induce the Indian artist to add this long appen- 
dage, or did he copy it directly or indirectly from a 
bearded race with which his countrymen had come 
in contact ? 











After this long digression, it is high time to resume 
my narrative. The reader will please to recollect that 
I had arrived at Libertad, a rising little town in the 
Chontales district, inhabited principally by people who 
either work in the mines or supply them with imple- 
ments, clothes, and provisions. I stayed only one 
night at this place, and then pushed on for St. Do- 
mingo, the head-quarters of the Chontales Company, 
Mr. Eodriguez, with whom I had come from Managua, 
kindly showing the way. Captain Paul, the mana- 
ger of the mines, was absent; but the gentleman 
left in charge, and all the other officers, received me 
hospitably, and were good enough to show me over 
the whole of the extensive and valuable mining pro- 


pcrty belonging to the company. At that time, j. e. in 
May, 1866, there was but little house-room at St. 
Domingo, the fine buildings now to be found there 
having hardly been commenced, and nearly all the 
officers and the family of the manager were obliged to 
live in a small house, not a hundredth part so good as 
an ordinary English stable. In the room in which I 
was invited to sleep, eight other gentlemen took their 
nightly repose, as well as their daily meals, hammocks 
being slung one over the other. There were no chairs 
as yet, but a long table, used in the daytime for dining 
and writing, at night as a bedstead, stood alongside 
one of the walls. A small window, the open door, 
and numerous crevices, admitted light and air, and 
allowed the escape of smoke which from the back 
kitchen penetrated into the apartment. Yet this 
house, with all its drawbacks, was a great improve- 
ment upon the native dwellings, and one really expe- 
rienced a feeling of comfort, odd as it may sound, 
creeping over one on entering this commencement of a 
European settlement. Everything was being done to 
improve upon the existing state of things ; and every 
day some articles were made or arrived from home 
which contributed towards the comfort of the em- 
ployes of the company. 

On the day when the first chairs had made their 
appearance, two Englishwomen arrived, who were 
to take up their abode in the mines. I was stand- 
ing at the door, and never shall forget their utter de- 
jection when to their question how far St. Domingo, 
the head-quarters of the Chontales Company, was from 

Chap. IX.— B. S.] ROUGHING IT. 131 

there, I was obliged to tell them, — politely handing 
them two of the first chairs ever seen in that wilder- 
ness, — that the place they were now at was their desti- 
nation, and the honse they had entered the principal 
building of the mines. The elder of the two was wear- 
ing a black lace shawl, and I could not help thinking 
that that, and many similar articles, had been sent out 
at least twenty years too early. She had used all her 
influence to obtain the employment on the duties of 
which she was about to enter, and left unheeded the 
warnings of those who were familiar with the nature 
and inconveniences of new countries. But roughing 
it is tempting to many minds. To prepare for sleeping 
under a fine old tree, with the silvery rays of the moon 
piercing through the green boughs, a good supper cook- 
ing by a bright camp fire, and swarthy natives singing 
snatches of plaintive songs, is so romantic, so much 
like a real gipsy life, that people who, from one year's 
end to another, have to go through the common rou- 
tine of life such as it is in our large towns, may be 
pardoned if imagination gets the better of judgment, 
and they rashly embark in enterprises beyond their 
physical strength or mental grasp. 

The elderly lady gave me a running, and to me highly 
amusing, yet not unfaithful, narrative of all the dangers 
she had passed through since leaving the comfortable 
West Indian mail steamer. Nearly swamped in the surf 
on landing, she found herself at Greytown in an atmo- 
sphere only fit for hothouse plants ; and, fond as she 
was of fresh air, her discomfort was augmented by her 
being thrust at night under the protecting shelter of a 



mosquito curtain, which, once incautiously lifted, let 
in regular swarms of minute tormentors, too swift to 
catch, and yet too tantalizing to be ignored. Then 
that horrid river San Juan, with its rank vegetation 
and fever-breathing swamps; and, above all, those 
frightful creatures, the alligators ! Who could look 
at them without a shudder ? Why couldn't the go- 
vernment of the country order the instant and total 
destruction of these monsters ? How could they ever 
expect well-brought-up white people to come to Ni- 
caragua, when at the very gates they were frightened 
out of their wits by such things as those ? She felt 
quite relieved when landing at San Ubaldo, after 
crossing Lake Nicaragua in a steamer, which might 
be rendered ten times more comfortable, and should 
be more comfortable if the steamboat company ever 
expected people to take a pleasure trip in them. 
She now hoped to have a fine gallop over the plains. 
But oh ! what a misnomer to call a continued mud- 
flat, varied only by deep holes of dirty water, a plain ! 
What must geographers have been thinking about 
when applying that term to what in other countries 
would simply be a swamp ? She had been some 
days on the road from the Lake to the mines, 
and not been able even to trot, let alone gallop. 
However, she consoled herself that on arriving at some 
town or other she would have at least a good night's 
rest ; but in this she was disappointed. Arrived at 
Acoyapa, she was put into an open shed, and had not 
a wink of sleep. Insisting upon having a lamp burning 
at night, all animal creation in and about the premises 


seemed to have made it a point to come and have a 
look at her. To say nothing of insects too numerous 
to mention, no sooner was the place quiet than the rats 
began rustling in the palm thatch, and causing bits of 
rubbish to fall in her face. Then the cats began their 
hunt ; then two cows entered the building, trying to 
pick up whatever stray leaves of Indian corn might be 
left on the floor ; then the dogs barked furiously, and she 
thought robbers or wild Indians were about to attack 
the house and murder her and all the other inmates. 
That alarm passed off, she was about to close her eyes 
when a new kind of noise arrested her attention, and 
she beheld with terror close to her head an ugly lizard, 
all covered with scales, and nigh six feet long. At last 
sleep began to demand its right, and, in spite of all the 
surrounding horrors, she began to close her eyes ; but 
at that moment two fighting cocks which shared the 
same roof with her began to crow. She endeavoured 
to drive them away, but found that they were thought 
so precious by their owner as to have been chained 
up. Of course, sleep was now altogether out of the 
question, and she almost welcomed the joyous notes of 
the chanticleers as announcing dawn of day, and de- 
livery out of the dreadful place she found herself in. 
The next, and the next day she had to go through 
similar ordeals, till at last she found herself at the 
head-quarters of some of the richest gold mines in the 
world, of which, however, she could as yet see but 
little evidence. She would not go over those dreadful 
roads again for £100. Did I ever see such roads? 
They were nothing but a broad streak of mud, so soft 


that tlic poor mules frequently stuck fast. For a long 
time she could not believe that she was actually tra- 
velling on the " Eoyal roads " of the country, as they 
were most improperly called, but fancied that the 
muleteers must necessarily have lost their way, and 
were trying to find it again by riding across country 
with her. Koads were one of the first things to be 
made in a country. It was quite ridiculous for Nica- 
ragua having a congress, an army, ministers of state, 
diplomatic representation, and other nonsense of that 
kind, when there was not half a mile of good road 
in ih.e whole country. Why couldn't those lazy soldiers 
she had seen about not be made to construct roads ? 
Why not punish crime, which she heard was so rife in 
this part of the world, by compelling every culprit to 
finish at least a mile of road before he again obtained 
a liberty which he was never able to enjoy as long as 
these muddy tracts, miscalled roads, existed ? 

Captain Holman, who, it will be recollected, came 
on by himself to Chontales, when I was taken ill at 
Leon, had made good use of his stay in these moun- 
tains, by inspecting all the mines which were offered 
for sale, a list of which was supplied him by Mr. Sy- 
monds, the Surveyor of the Chontales Company. The 
very first mine on this list was the Javali, owned by 
Don L. Quiroz, who had grown an old and rich man 
since working it, and was desirous of retiring from a 
business for which his advancing years disqualified 
him. All the European, as well as the native, miners 
of the district agreed that the Javali was the gem of 
Chontales, and Captain Holman had also seen at a 



glance that here, at last, was the property we had 
been searching for so long. On arriving, I found him to 
be in a great state of excitement ; he had heard that 
there were several parties prepared to buy the Javali, 
and he was afraid it might slip through our fingers 
before my arrival. After we had examined it together, 
I determined to purchase it ; and at once sent a trust- 
worthy agent to the vendor, whilst Captain Holman and 
myself remained in Chontales to go over the surround- 
ing mines, some of which we found to be very rich, 
though none of them enjoyed the combined advantages 
of the Javali. 

The day after my arrival at St. Domingo was a 
Sunday ; and on the morning of that day a number of 
soldiers arrived, commanded by an officer, to prevent 
a breach of the peace. It appears that one of the 
Directors of the Chontales Company, having a rather 
strong religious leaning, had sent out a number of 
prayer and hymn books, and encouraged one of the 
officers to preach to the men. Amongst the small com- 
munity at the mines, there were men of all religious de- 
nominations, and some of them did not like a Methodist 
— especially a layman— to preach to them, or to listen 
to Methodist hymns. Some of the Catholics therefore 
hit upon the expedient of rousing the bigotry of the 
natives, — all Eoman Catholics to the backbone, — and 
the consequence was that when the service commenced, 
the natives began to shout loudly, swinging their 
machetes, and vow that they would kill every heretic 
who dared to set up a false religion among them. As 
soon as the row commenced the preacher ran away in 



great fright, shut himself up in the only house which 
had solid walls, and vehemently demanded that at 
once soldiers should be sent for to put down the na- 
tives and protect the lives of the Protestants. How- 
ever, all passed off without any bloodshed, the object 
of the natives having merely been to frighten the 
Methodists, so as to make them abstain from further 
singing of hymns. That attained, all was quiet again. 
On the following Sunday, when the soldiers had 
arrived, the objectionable service was again proceeded 
with, the shoeless warriors being posted with their 
guns, bayonet mounted, around the shed in which the 
service was held, and no breach of the peace took 
place. The company, however, had every reason to 
rue the steps taken to preserve order at this price. 
The soldiers quartered themselves upon the already 
overcrowded premises, and had to be fed and paid 
by the shareholders at home, until my friend the late 
Captain Hill, when Commissioner of the Company, 
finally ejected them, and thereby incurred a great deal 
of abuse from the sons of Mars. 

Leaving St. Domingo on the 23rd of May, — the 
first shower of rain fell on that day, — I stopped a 
few days at Libertad, in order to examine, together 
with Captain Holman, the San Juan and San Miguel 
mines. At the inn, kept by an American lady, I met 
Captain Watson, B.N., who had been sent out by the 
Mineral Eights Association, together with an engineer, 
to purchase mining properties in Nicaragua. The 
natives thought that here was a fine chance of raising 
the price of their mines ; but I soon came to an under- 

Chap. IX.— B. S.] RIDE TO GRANADA. 137 

standing with Captain Watson, that neither of ns 
would outbid the other; and when I found that he 
was anxious to have the San Juan, I went away 
without even making an offer for it. It was rather 
amusing to see all the artifices to which the natives 
resorted in order to make us run a race in acquiring 
properties. They looked quite disappointed, and could 
hardly believe their eyes, when I took my departure 
without opening the big purse to which they knew I 
had free access. 

I took the direct road to Granada, where the owner 
of the Javali resided, passing Juigalpa, and, after a 
long and dreary ride through an uncultivated country, 
reaching Acote. The latter is merely a farm at the 
banks of a small river, and famous for the myriads of 
mosquitoes with which it is infested during the rainy 
season. The people are a well-to-do Zambo family, a 
widow, with several sons and daughters, who do all in 
their power to make travellers comfortable. They 
have everything the country produces in plenty, both 
for man and beast, and are very moderate in their 
charges. The house which they inhabit is open on 
two sides, with the kitchen partitioned off by canes, 
but otherwise built of substantial timber. We were 
told that in some wet seasons the rivulet rose to 
such a height that the water entered the house, and 
at one time they had to save their lives by climbing 
on the roof ; all their things floating away, and they 
themselves nearly starving. Before our hostess and 
family went to bed they had very long prayers, 
the mother intoning them, and the rest of the com- 


munity responding. Her voice was extremely un- 
pleasant, and a nasal twang which, like most Nica- 
raguans, she put on when singing, was not calculated 
to soften it. The same religious observance was gone 
through the next morning, long before dawn, and 
even if we had intended to sleep longer, it would have 
been quite impossible to do so. I was much amused 
at there having been another observer besides my- 
self of the strange scene, for, when we started, a very 
clever green parrot (Chrysotis auripalliatus), a species 
peculiar to Central America, mimicked the old lady's 
chanting to perfection, and as I saw her feeding and 
fondling the bird, I presume that she did not mind 
being noticed. 

Granada, where we arrived on the 28th of May, 
may be termed the real capital of the republic, 
though at present, by the jealousy of local political 
parties, not enjoying its natural advantages. It is 
charmingly situated on the shores of Lake Nica- 
ragua, and maintains a direct steam communication 
with the Atlantic Ocean by way of the San Juan 
river. Almost entirely destroyed by the American 
filibusters, as Walker's party was termed ultimately, 
or " Saviours of the Country," as it was when first 
called in, — the town is now fast recovering, and 
new houses are being built on the ruins of the 
old. Even the churches, which suffered severely 
from being used as fortresses during the siege, 
are being repaired. There had been rather heavy 
and continuous earthquakes a short time previous 
to my arrival, and light, temporary sheds had 

Chap. IX.— B. S.] SAGACITY OF A MULE. 139 

been built in the public squares and other open places 
in which the inhabitants took refuge. The priests 
did not allow this occasion to slip by without obtain- 
ing considerable contributions from the frightened and 
repenting multitude. The longer the earthquakes 
continued, the faster money was coming in. There 
were three slight shocks on the day after my arrival, 
interpreted by the inhabitants as the harbinger of the 
wet season ; and sure enough, in the evening of the 
same day, the rain came down in torrents, rapidly 
converting the dusty streets into foaming rivers. 

Everything having been arranged satisfactorily 
about the purchase of the Javali Mine, which I finally 
obtained for ^150,000, I was able to start for Europe, 
Captain Holman remaining behind a little longer. 
From Granada my way led once more to Managua, 
passing Masaya, with its curious crater lake, out of 
which all the water used in the town is carried on 
the heads of women. It was late in the day when 
I left Granada, and stopping some time in Masaya to 
let a heavy shower of rain pass, I entered, about 
sunset, a virgin forest. My cargo-mules and ser- 
vants had been left far behind, not being able to 
keep up with my pace. The rain coming down in 
regular bucketfuls, I trotted on as fast as the nature 
of the ground would admit, but ere long I found my- 
self in utter darkness. When the rain abated, in- 
numerable fireflies appeared, the brilliant flutter of 
which completely blinded me. Allowing the mule 
to have his own way, he went along at a very slow 
pace ; but my confidence in his sagacity was not dis- 


appointed ; lie carried me safely to Managua, just as 
everybody was going to bed, and earned high praise 
from the people at the inn, who could hardly believe 
that man and beast had passed over a dark and diffi- 
cult road, previously unknown to both. The inn was 
a fair specimen of those institutions throughout the 
country kept by natives, and is known by the nickname 
of ' Hotel de Hambre,' from travellers having the pri- 
vilege of paying pretty highly for being kept just 
above starvation point, on sun-dried beef, brown 
beans, a few eggs, and some make- cakes. In con- 
juring up such an inn, dismiss from your mind all 
notion of comfort or cosiness. If taken in, which in 
one sense one always is, you may have to share 
your room with half-a-dozen fellows. There may, 
perhaps, be a few empty bedsteads ; but unless you 
bring your own bedding or hammock, you have a 
most miserable time of it. On the night of my ar- 
rival the inn kept up its reputation. There was not 
a handful of grass or corn for my poor mule, and he 
had to content himself with a pailful of water for the 
night. I myself fared little better. The landlord 
informed me that there was nothing to eat on the 
premises, except one egg and a couple of maize cakes, 
which, with a cup of coffee — milk I should have in 
the morning — might be sufficient to keep body and 
soul together till breakfast- time. 

From Managua I returned, by way of Matiaris, 
Nagarote, Pueblo Nueva, and Leon, to Corinto, and 
there embarked for Panama. After roughing it for 
several months, I was glad to find myself once more 

Chap. IX.— B. S.] ' POPULAR SCIENCE. 141 

in the " bridal chamber" (without the bride though) 
of the steamer i Guatemala,' and in company with my 
friend Captain Dow, who, more fortunate than I, was 
in possession of a goodly supply of European and 
American periodicals devoted to science, some of them 
containing descriptions of the many new discoveries 
he had made on the Central American coast. A per- 
son living away from the great centres of science, 
where he becomes master, almost without being aware 
of it, of what has been expressively called " floating 
knowledge," is always very glad to skim over these 
magazines whenever he has a chance, not rejecting 
even the most humble of the numerous class which 
endeavour to spread scientific information by clothing 
it in language intelligible to the masses. I know the 
danger I am running in the eyes of some savants by 
saying a good word for popular science, which they 
regard as but another term for slovenly scientific 
writing ; and it is perfectly true, that many authors 
who supply articles for popular scientific magazines 
are not properly conversant with the subjects with 
which they endeavour to familiarize the public. 
Hence they teach many things which have to be un- 
learned afterwards. This should not be. Make it 
a point in all popular scientific writings to have your 
facts strictly correct, and you need, in my opinion, not 
be ashamed of whatever form you may choose to em- 
ploy in placing them before those whom you have 
undertaken to instruct. Humboldt, the father of this 
branch of literature, always upheld this principle, and 
in the various editions of his popular writings, he 


was as careful to expunge incidental errors as lie was 
in his more abstruse treatises. To show how far I 
would go in clothing scientific facts into a popular 
garb, I read to Captain Dow a story which I contrived 
in order to illustrate the natural history of that most 
singular of our European plants, the Mistleto. It 
was subsequently published in the Christmas num- 
ber of the 'Athenseum,' and reprinted by various 
other papers. Whilst the good ship i Guatemala ' 
is making her way towards Panamd, it may while 
away the time of my readers. So here it is for their 
perusal : — 

The Mistleto and the Appletree. 

The Mistleto was in great distress. The Apple- 
tree he had been living with had suddenly died, and 
he was now compelled to look out for another home. 
So entering a fine large orchard, full of all sorts of 
fruit, and making a polite bow to the best Apple-tree, 
he introduced himself as Mr. Mistleto, late resident of 
Appleton Grove. " I have been living for years with 
one of your kindred," he commenced, "and now my 
friend has died, and I have to find shelter somewhere. 
I see you have a good many stout branches unoccu- 
pied ; would you allow me to take up my quarters 
there for awhile?" 

"Certainly not," replied the Apple-tree. "You 
are an idle vagabond, and would not be content with 
living with me, but you would live upon me. I knew 
the Apple-tree you speak of very well, indeed; we 
were brought up in the same nursery together, and I 

Chap. IX.— B. S.] THE MISTLETO. 143 

warned him more than once against rascals of yonr 
description. Bnt he would not listen. He allowed 
you to stay with him, and you, parasite as you are, 
were not ashamed to live upon the very flesh and 
marrow of my good-natured friend, until you had 
devoured all his substance. Wow you are going to 
fasten yourself upon me. No, no ; you won't catch 
me slaving away for those too lazy to work for them- 

" Oh, Mr. Apple-tree, it won't do to make yourself 
out to be hard-hearted," rejoined the Mistleto. u Your 
charitable disposition is plain to all the world. Don't 
I see that Hop winding around your upper branches, 
and blossoming to his heart's content? Would he 
have been able to do that if not allowed to climb 
higher than the hedge which affords your own self a 
partial shelter ? Why should you refuse me a boon 
which you have freely granted to a mere straggling 

" Now, look ye here, Master Mistleto, I'll not bandy 
words with you, but just let me tell you this," said 
the Apple-tree, waxing hot. "You never soil your 
feet as I and the Hop have to do; indeed, I know 
that none of your tribe ever put a single root in the 
ground. All you do is to suck the very lifeblood out 
of others, and that without the slightest remorse or 
spark of gratitude on your part. It is not merely 
assistance you want — that I would willingly give: 
because I well remember, when a young sapling, I 
required that of two very strong sticks myself; but 
you want to be kept entirely, live the life of an inde- 


pendent gentleman, though you have no resources of 
your own. It is very different with the Hop, of 
whom you speak so disparagingly ; he is too weak to 
stand alone, and requires support ; but he does his 
best. All day long he is busy in the ground, picking 
up whatever he can ; and look at these fine clusters 
of his ; they will be gathered presently by our master, 
and give a fine flavour to the home-brewed ale, of 
which he is as fond as of the cider he makes of my 
fruit. Could one ever look for any such returns from 
you ?" 

" A fine thing to be proud of," exclaimed the Mis- 
tleto sneeringly. ' l Ale and cider ! My fruit, I am 
happy to say, does not serve the ends of drunkenness. 
Man makes it into excellent lime to catch such sing- 
ing birds as he does not wish to kill. It therefore 
actually saves life, whilst yours may be said to de- 
stroy it. But it is mere labour thrown away to argue 
with you. I see you are in a dreadfully bad humour 
to-day, and it is no use to ask any favour of you. I 
always thought you hospitable, but I am sorry to find 
that you are, after all, one who greedily keeps every- 
thing to himself, — if, indeed, he has anything to spare." 

" I knew that I should be abused," replied the Ap- 
ple-tree ; " real beggars always grumble when refused 

The Mistleto could see the Apple-tree was getting 
angry, and fearing that he would speak so loud that 
the whole neighbourhood would overhear their dis- 
pute, and make it more difficult to get snug quarters 
anywhere else, he went to another very fine Apple- 

Chap. IX.— B. S.] THE WAYS OF A PARASITE. 145 

tree, at the other end of the orchard, to whom he had 
paid, more than once, nattering compliments. 

" Good morning, Mr. Apple-tree," he said, "how 
well yon look ! bnt no one can wonder at that, bear- 
ing in mind yonr tine constitution, and the delightful 
locality you live in. I wish I conld stay with you 
awhile ; it really would do me good ; for I have had 
so mnch tronble of late that I am quite worn ont. 
Yon knew poor Mr. Apple-tree, of Appleton Grove ; 
I believe he was a connection of yonrs. Well, poor 
thing ! he is no more ; and I, who had been living so 
many years with him (yon know he was so fond of 
my company that he would never part with me), was 
suddenly withont a home. I fully expected some- 
thing would be left to me, considering all I have done 
for him ; bnt in that I have been disappointed. So I 
must do the best I can, live as economically as pos- 
sible, and take the first shelter I can get. There 
seems to be plenty of room in your upper branches ; 
I wish you would allow me to take up my quarters 
there for awhile." 

" I am really sorry to have to refuse you," replied 
the Apple-tree ; " but the farmer is a great enemy of 
Mistletos ; he says they are idle fellows, and wherever 
they establish themselves they cause mischief, and 
there is no getting rid of them. Why don't you go 
to the forest ? There are plenty of fine old Oaks, and 
no farmer to oppose you; besides, I have always 
heard that a Mistleto growing on an Oak was such a 
curiosity as to excite the greatest notice ; indeed, if I 
remember rightly, at one time they were actually 
worshipped if found on such trees." l 


"The farmer objects," replied the Mistleto, " be- 
cause at Christmas the servants will cut branches of 
me to make a kissing bush, and he cannot bear young 
people to enjoy that fun, quite forgetting that when 
not so old as he is now, he was not sorry that some 
of my relations grew sufficiently close to his father's 
house to be got at without much trouble." 

"True, very true," rejoined the Apple-tree. 

" And then," continued the Mistleto, having taken 
breath, " about worshipping us ; I could tell you all 
day long about the important part my ancestors used 
to play before the Christian religion came into the 
land ; and if you will allow me to remain a few days, 
I could while away the long evenings by telling you 
of their great doings. It is as interesting as anything 
you ever heard." 

"But the Oak is most respectable; and if you be- 
come such an object of admiration when associated 
with it, why don't you attach yourself to that venera- 
ble tree?" inquired the Apple-tree. 

"You may well ask," rejoined the Mistleto; "but 
the fact of the matter is, the wood of the Oak, how- 
ever well suited for ships, is so very hard that we 
have the greatest difficulty in establishing our roots 
in it ; and I am rather partial to putting my feet in a 
soft bed. Besides, there is another circumstance that 
ought not to be concealed from you. I am rather 
fond of good living, and you know that every Christ- 
mas the people of the villages like to have a sprig of 
Mistleto in their houses. Now, if I am hidden in a 
forest, no one will think of looking for me there ; but 

Chap. IX.— B. S.] THE MORAL OF THE STORY. 147 

if I am in an orchard, where everybody sees me, I 
stand a fair chance of being fetched, and then partake 
of the Christmas cheer as a matter of course." 

The Apple-tree was himself very fond of good liv- 
ing ; and when the Mistleto alluded to the Christmas 
cheer, his month began to water. The Mistleto saw 
his advantage, and continued : — 

" Now, my dear Sir, I have a proposition to make. 
Let me take up my quarters in your branches till 
Christmas, and if I am fetched to any of the houses, 
I shall bring back with me plenty of good things, and 
then we will have a jolly time of it." 

The Apple-tree's weak point had been touched. 
He allowed the Mistleto to take up his quarters with 
him, thinking it would only be for a short time, and 
he would be well remunerated for it. At first Mis- 
tleto was pleasant enough, saying many nattering 
things, and telling many a good story; but when 
firmly established, he assumed airs as if everything 
belonged to him. Not satisfied with occupying more 
room than had originally been agreed upon, he invited 
his friends and relations, and after the door had been 
once opened to them, there was no getting rid of 
them. The Apple-tree began to complain ; he had as 
yet not seen anything of the Christmas cheer, nobody 
having come for the Mistleto, and at last he resolved 
to rid himself of his unpleasant visitors. One night 
when there was a heavy gale, he improved upon the 
occasion by shaking himself violently ; but the only 
result was that all his fruit-blossoms fell off, and one 
of the best branches, hitherto free from the Mistletos, 

l 2 


broke clean off. What was worse, the Mistletos per- 
ceived the Apple-tree's anger, and laughed right ont 
at him. He found they were getting the better of 
him, and consuming all he had. Euin was staring 
him in the face ; first one branch, then another, began 
to wither, and wherever there was any healthy part, 
it was sure to be taken possession of by his unscru- 
pulous and voracious visitors. At last, finding all his 
struggles to free himself hopeless, be began to sink 
fast, and ere long died. He was cut down by the 
farmer and thrown into the cart ; and, as his funeral 
was passing along, the Apple-tree who had been proof 
against the solicitations of the Mistleto uttered a deep 
sigh, and murmured to himself, " There goes another 
victim to flattery !" 

The Mistleto had now once more to look out for a 
home ; but as all the Apple-trees of that part of the 
country were aware that his only aim was to live 
upon others, and lead an idle, useless life, all his ap- 
plications met with a refusal. So he made up his 
mind to leave the Old World for the New ; but, being 
without resources of his own, he probably found the 
long journey too much for him, and perished miserably 
on the road, as he has never been seen or heard of in 
those parts. 







The c Guatemala,' leaving Corinto on the 11th of June, 
at midday, when the rain came down in torrents, 
dropped anchor off Punta Arenas, in Costa Eica, after 
a run of twenty-four hours. Punta Arenas looked 
more cheerful than it did last time I visited it, — the 
white lighthouse standing out boldly from a back- 
ground of dense tropical vegetation. A large cargo 
having to be taken on board, Captain Dow and I 
profited by our detention at this port by making, at 
dawn the following day, an excursion to the island of 
San Lucas, for the purpose of collecting specimens. 
We had a pleasant ramble on the shore, and picked up 
seven species of seaweeds, which were afterwards de- 
posited in Dr. J. E. Gray's rich collection ; whilst my 
friend caught, amongst many other things, a fine 


specimen of a fish, which he had originally discovered 
in these parts. The vegetation on shore was but 
poor ; the bulk consisting of a white Plumieria, a leaf- 
less Bursera, some spiny Cactuses, Pineapples, Sarsapa- 
rilla, and, close to the sea, the poisonous Manchineal- 
\ma^ with the name of which all Europe has now 
become familiar by its introduction into Meyerbeer's 
grand opera of ' L'Africaine.' It is a pity, however, 
that Meyerbeer did not choose an Upas-tree (which 
does grow in Africa) instead of the Manchineal-tree, 
which does not extend its geographical limits beyond 
the tropics of the New World. But one would wil- 
lingly forgive this geographical blunder, — when even 
Shakespeare's seaport in Bohemia has to be condoned, 
— if our scene-painters, who certainly can do clever 
things, were but to give faithful portraits of the Man- 
chineal, instead of the fanciful representations they 
favour us with. I for one should have been very 
thankful for such a lesson, for the first time I saw the 
Manchineal, which looks exactly like a Pear-tree in 
leaf, notwithstanding its name (meaning little Apple- 
tree, from the Spanish word Manzanillo), and cut some 
of its branchlets for my herbarium, I was blinded for 
two days by the acrid milk that issued from it, and 
suffered the most acute pain conceivable. 

On the 15th of June the ' Guatemala ' dropped an- 
chor off Plaminco Island in the Bay of Panama^, which 
is now the property of the railway company, and will 
become the terminus of the railroad; the distance be- 
tween it and the shore is to be bridged over. This 
will be a vast improvement. Passengers and goods 


can then be landed direct from the steamer without 
having to be transferred to tenders, the movements 
of which are regulated by the tides ; nor will they 
have to stop any time at Panamd. 

I have spent so much time on the coast of the 
Isthmus, during H.M.S. Herald's survey, that, after 
many years, I am still familiar with it. There is one 
point here that has assumed more than ordinary inter- 
est after recent discoveries, — and that is that the In- 
dians south of the Gulf of San Miguel do, to this day, 
build their houses upon piles, either into the sea or 
rivers. It is not generally known, or rather not often 
remembered, that many of the American aborigines, on 
their discovery by the Spaniards, were pile-builders ; 
the reason why Venezuela was called by that name, 
signifying " Little Venice, " was that many villages 
on the coast were built on piles ; and there is still 
a complete village in the Lake of Maracaibo, church in 
the centre, which is entirely built on piles, the little 
children being secured by ropes from falling into the 
water, just as Herodotus describes the customs as 
prevailing in his days in the Old "World. Pile-building 
seems to have been far more general than is sup- 
posed. It is still practised in many parts of Polynesia. 
In the Viti Islands I found that nearly every village 
had one or more large pile -buildings either in sea, 
lake, or river, which were exclusively occupied by the 
boys and youths, grown up people of either sex never 
inhabiting them. In the course of ages a number of 
tools, arms, crockery, etc., used by successive genera- 
tions of children must naturally be deposited where 


these buildings arc erected, and when, at some future 
period, some antiquary digs open the foundations of 
these ancient structures, he may be tempted to demon- 
strate — as some do who now write about our Euro- 
pean lake-dwellers — that there must have been a race 
of pigmies here, because all tools, arms, etc., are of 
such diminutive size ! 

On this same coast of southern Darien there arc 
also large tracts covered with Cocoa-nut Palms, to all 
appearance wild there. The Cocoa-nut is now found in 
every part of the tropics, though never much beyond 
them, chiefly on the seacoast ; some varieties, however, 
have been met with far inland, for instance, at Merida, 
in Yucatan, by Heller ; at Patna, in Bengal, by J. D. 
Hooker ; and at Concepcion del Pao, in South America, 
by Humboldt and Bonpland. But there is reason to 
believe that at one time its geographical range was 
much more limited ; indeed, we know that even in our 
days it has been extended to the "West Coast of Africa ; 
and the great puzzle has been, whence did it ori- 
ginally spring ? Though having paid considerable 
attention to this subject, I am not acquainted with 
any theory, nor have been able to start one myself, 
which would be in unison with the part the Cocoa- 
nut at present plays in different countries. It is 
assumed that the Isthmus of Panama, or the country 
thereabouts, was the cradle of this singular produc- 
tion, and that it thence floated to Polynesia and Asia. 
The reason for this assumption is that all the other 
species of the genus Cocos belong to the New World 
as inland species, and that it is reasonable to suppose 

Chap. X.— 13. S.] A PUZZLE ABOUT THE COCOA-NUT. 153 

this littoral one ( Cocos nucifera) is also endemic to 
America. But it should not be forgotten that there 
are several genera of Palms with representatives about 
the native country of which there is no doubt, in both 
hemispheres : for instance, the Oil Palms (Elaeis) in 
Africa and America, and the common Fan Palms 
(Chamwrops) in Europe, Asia, and America. More- 
over, whilst the Asiatics and Polynesians have dis- 
covered innumerable uses of the Cocoa-nut tree, the 
American natives have made no such progress, but 
consume the fruit as an occasional luxury only. This 
would almost seem to prove that the acquaintance of 
the latter with the tree dates from a comparatively 
recent period, and that of the former from a more 
remote one, an argument unfavourable to America 
being regarded as its native country. 

On turning to Polynesia we find whole islands 
covered with Cocoa-nut, and in some groups the entire 
population relying upon it as their staff of life. It 
has all the appearance of being perfectly at home, 
but there is one circumstance that strikes us as very 
curious. The light-skinned Polynesians are assumed 
to be of a Malay stock, and to have migrated some- 
where from Eastern Asia. How comes it to pass that 
they are ignorant of the art of preparing toddy from 
the unexpanded flower-branches of the Cocoa-nut 
Palm, — a beverage of so ancient a date that the oldest 
language of Asia has a term for it, toddy being a 
corruption of the Sanskrit word tade? Did these 
Polynesians leave the cradle of their race before the 
Cocoa-nut tree had found its way to it ? or are we to 


assume that they have migrated with the trade-wind 
rather than against it ; or in other words, that Malayan 
Asia was peopled from Polynesia rather than Polynesia 
from Malayan Asia ? Toddy may be extracted from 
other Palms besides the Cocoa-nut, and from time im- 
memorial has been obtained from several indigenous 
Asiatic species (Caryota, Arcnga, etc.). Had the 
Polynesians therefore once known the process, they 
would probably never have forgotten so easy a way of 
obtaining sugar, vinegar, yeast, and a pleasant drink, 
the strength of which may be regulated by time to 
any man's taste. So either the Polynesians could 
never have come from Eastern Asia, or else, after 
spreading over the South Sea, ages must have elapsed 
before the Cocoa-nut made its appearance in those 
waters, so that the process of toddy-making (there 
being no other suitable Polynesian Palms to operate 
upon) had been entirely forgotten, and even disap- 
peared from native traditions. Under such circum- 
stances, it behoves us to suspend our final judgment 
whether Polynesia be or be not the native country of 
the Cocoa-nut. 

As already stated, Western Africa has in our times 
only become familiar with the Cocos nucifera^ and I 
have not been able to learn anything regarding its 
history on the eastern coast of that continent, except 
that in Madagascar, in common with many other 
things supposed to have been imported by Malay 
pirates, it bears a Malayan name. 

But how about Asia, where such forests of these 
Palms now gird the coast, and where they seem to 


grow with almost greater vigour than in America or 
Polynesia? Can that have been the cradle of the 
nut ? There are weighty reasons for hesitating in a 
reply. The littoral parts of Ceylon are now densely 
covered with this tree, and it looks more at home 
there than I have ever seen it in any part of the 
world. Yet both tradition and history affirm that at 
one time the Cocoa-nut was unknown in Ceylon. 
Not far from Point de Galle, there is carved on a 
rock the gigantic effigy of a native prince, Kottah 
Eayah, to whom is ascribed the discovery of the pro- 
perties of the Cocoa-nut, which before his time were 
unknown, as was also the tree. Moreover, the oldest 
chronicle of Ceylon, the 'Marawansa,' the historical 
value of which is now fully admitted, is absolutely 
silent about everything relating to the Cocoa-nut, 
whilst it never fails to record, with tedious minute- 
ness, every accession of other fruit-trees made to the 
plantations by native princes. Now, is it probable 
that a fruit like the Cocoa-nut, which is often tossed 
about the ocean for months without losing its ger- 
minating power from the effects of salt water, — is it 
probable that if such a fruit had been indigenous to 
any part of Asia, it should have reached Ceylon only 
in a comparatively recent historical period ? 

These and similar puzzles having engaged my at- 
tention ever since I brought out my c Popular History 
of Palms,' I was somewhat prepared for the question, 
"Was the Cocoa-nut known to the ancient Egyp- 
tians ?" which Goodwin started in the c Parthenon.' 

Setting aside the argument advanced by him for 


an affirmative answer, I should reply — There is no 
reason why the Cocoa-nut should not have been culti- 
vated at Thebes more than three thousand years ago. 
Some varieties of the nut will grow far inland, and 
Thebes is not so very far distant from the sea to pre- 
clude such a contingency : the climate would also 
admit of it. Again, if the Cocoa-nut could be drifted 
in modern times by the prevailing winds and marine 
currents from Western America to Eastern Asia, there 
is no reason why it should not have done the same 
three thousand years ago, when the distribution of 
land and water must have been pretty much the same 
as it is now, and the direction of the winds and cur- 
rents was doubtless not different from what we find 
in our days. It is therefore not unlikely that the 
Cocoa-nut, if known in Asia three thousand years ago, 
might have found its way to Egypt, — even Solomon's 
fleet having brought home curiosities of every descrip- 
tion from Ceylon and other parts, — and might have 
been cultivated by a gentleman attached to horticul- 
ture. But I am not quite prepared to confirm the 
venture that the Mama-en-khanent of the catalogue of 
the Egyptian garden, to which Mr. Goodwin alludes, 
was the Cocoa-nut. The determinative appended to 
the hieroglyphic is very rude, and all one could 
conscientiously say is, that in outline it looks very 
much like either a Palm or a Banana. But in 
taking into consideration that the apostrophe in the 
Sallier Papyrus, page 8, applies to this tree, it may 
be granted that we have to deal with a Palm, the 
Banana fruit having no water inside. But the 

Chap. X.— B. S.] THE MAMA-EN-KHANENT. 157 

presence of water inside the frnit would not settle the 
question whether we have the real Cocoa-nut before 
us. What is popularly termed the " water" is com- 
mon to all Palms when the fruit is sufficiently young, 
and disappears on approaching maturity. The water 
— to keep to the term — would probably not be noticed 
in small fruit; and the fact that it was specially 
alluded to in the apostrophe would seem to imply that 
the author was speaking of a large fruit. The height 
of the tree mentioned in the papyrus (sixty cubits) 
tallies well with that usually attained by the Cocoa- 
nut tree in the tropics and near the sea ; but it may be 
questioned whether that Palm would attain its full 
dimensions in a place situated like Thebes. I have 
seen the tree struggling for existence at the very 
edge of the equinoctial region, even in its favourite 
haunts in the neighbourhood of the sea — for instance, 
the Sandwich Islands and the Gulf of California. 
There are no other points a botanist could lay hold 
of, in the materials come to hand, and I may there- 
fore be permitted to guess what other Palm can 
possibly be meant by the Mama-en-khanent. The 
Palms of Egypt are the Date and the Doum {Phoenix 
dactylifera and Hyphcena Thebaica), both of which are 
disposed of by the writer in the 'Parthenon.' But 
there is a Palm in Nubia, and probably also in 
Upper Egypt, the Deleb (Borassus JEthiopum, Mart.), 
which has a fruit quite as large as some of the 
middle-sized kind of Cocoa-nut, and the ventricose 
trunk of which has evidently been the prototype of 
the columns seen in Egyptian temples ; the Date-palm, 


from which the capitals were copied (as is evident in 
the great temple of Edfou), having no snch swelling 
in the trunk. There is a considerable quantity of 
water in the fruit of the Delcb-palm ; and as its 
height also agrees with that mentioned in the apo- 
strophe, the balance of evidence would rather seem in 
favour of this tree as that meant by the Mama-en- 
Jchanent. This same Palm has previously been mistaken 
for the Cocoa-nut tree ; it is the Palm of Timbuctoo, 
which Humboldt, misguided by erroneous informa- 
tion, thought to be Cocos nucifera, until, in a paper 
read before the Linnean Society of London, I showed 
it to be Borassus JEthiopum. 

My time at Panamd was filled up by making an 
excursion up the Bayano, one of the largest rivers of 
the Isthmus, and regarded as one of the most feasible, 
if not the most feasible, point for establishing an inter- 
oceanic canal, the merits of which have been discussed 
by Rear- Admiral Davis, of Washington.* The Eail- 

* Copy of the Report on the Inter-Oceanic Canals (in regard to the 
route from Chepo to San Bias.) By Rear- Admiral Charles H. Davis, 
Superintendent of the Naval Observatory, Washington. Government 
Printing Office, 1867 : — " The line from Chepo to San Bias has always 
been the subject of special curiosity, on account of the jealous exclu- 
sion by the Indians of all strangers from their territory. Our accurate 
knowledge of the geography of the coasts on both sides enables us to 
determine that here is the narrowest part of the Isthmus. This is of 
itself an important fact ; and, added to this, a rumour or report has 
been received from the Indians in this vicinity that they are in the 
habit of hauling their canoes on wooden slides across the Cordilleras, 
from the Mandingo river, and launching them in the waters of the 
Bayano. This rumour, which is noticed by many writers, is particu- 
larly mentioned by Mr. Oliphant, in a paper read before the Geogra- 
phical Society of London, April 21, 1865. The writer of that paper 

Chap. X.— B. S.] BAYANO RIVER. 159 

road Company obligingly lending me the l Panama,' a 
steamer of 250 tons, and all the leading foreign resi- 
dents, including consuls, were invited to accompany 
me. We left the island of Flaminco on the 16th of 
June, late at night, and at daybreak reached the 
mouth of the Bayano, which we entered with the tide. 
There were mangrove forests for the first few miles, 
but gradually the country became less swampy, and 
there was everywhere evidence that in the high- days 
of Spanish power it had been covered with plantation, 
— in one or two places some old solidly-built landing- 
made a journey from Panama to Chepo or Bayano River, [on a schooner 
belonging to the Central American Association,] simply for a recon- 
naissance, and he says that the tide of the Pacific extends to within 
fifteen miles of the northern coast, and that he saw from Chepo a 
remarkable depression in the mountain chain, about ten miles distant. 
He makes the remark, in which all will concur, that it is a discredit to 
the civilization of the nineteenth century that this part of the Isthmus 
should not have been explored. This is not owing, however, to a want 
of effort. Attempts to cross the Isthmus at this point were made by 
Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Wheelwright, but they were driven back by the 
aborigines. It is very gratifying to have it in my power to say that 
this discredit to the civilization of the nineteenth century has been 
removed by the indefatigable zeal and enterprise of Mr. F. M. Kelly, of 
New York, of whom it was justly said by the President of the Institu- 
tion of Civil Engineers of London, that he had produced more intelli- 
gible information towards the solution of this problem, of such vast 
importance to the commercial and political interests of the world, than 
had hitherto been accessible ; and of whom Sir R. Murchison also said 
he " heartily wished he might succeed in his great and philanthropic 
project, which so deeply interested civilized nations." After having 
spent a vast amount of labour and money upon the examination of the 
Atrato and San Juan rivers, in search of a suitable route of an inter- 
oceanic canal across the province of Choco, Mr. Kelly and his friends, 
in 1864, took up the long deferred but much coveted exploration of 
the route from Chepo to the Grulf of San Bias. From Mr. Kelly's 


stages being observable. At ten a.m. we found our- 
selves off Jesus-Maria, an estate at that time belonging 
to Dr. Kratochwill, a German physician, and the only 
one in the whole Isthmus where agricultural operations 
are carried on in a proper manner. There was none of 
that extreme untidiness about it so characteristic of 
everything w r ith which Spaniards or people of Spanish 
descent have to do. The buildings were substantial, 
the gardens and sugar-fields well kept, and the yards 
stocked with fowls of every description. The estate 
is twenty-eight miles from the mouth, but our steamer, 

plans, it will be perceived that the whole length of the route from 
ocean to ocean is only thirty miles. On the north there is the admi- 
rable, spacious, and deep harbour of San Bias, and on the south the 
channel leading into the Bay of Panama has not less than eighteen feet 
of water at mean low tide, while the ordinary rise of tide is sixteen 
feet. I give these figures from Mr. Kelly's survey, but I must observe 
that the result of the examination by his engineer of the entrance of 
the Bayano is entirely unexpected, and does not accord with the Ad- 
miralty charts. But the most striking feature of the project, as of Mr. 
Garella, is a tunnel, similar in its length and other respects to the 
great tunnel through the Alps at Mont Cenis, in which the progress is 
so satisfactory that the period of its completion can be definitely fixed. 
When the tunnel through Mont Cenis, and the still greater one through 
Mont St. Gothard, are finished and in use, such undertakings will cease 
to be regarded with the aversion now felt towards them. It must be 
observed, however, with regard to Mr. Kelly's survey, that, owing to 
its being a private affair, it was necessarily accomplished at the least 
possible expense, and with the utmost expedition. It pursued a single 
line, without deviating to the right or left, although the surveyors were 
satisfied that they saw evidence of greater depression to the westward 
of their course ; and there can be no doubt whatever that a deliberate 
examination, made under such advantages as would pertain to a go- 
vernmental survey, would lessen the difficulties, and perhaps lead to 
the discovery of such a route through the valleys as would render a 
resort to tunnelling unnecessary. 


which made fast to the shore, allowing us to land 
without using a boat, might have gone ten miles 
further up without any danger of grounding, even at 
low water, for up to that point there were more than six 
feet of rise and fall of the tides. 

The land on both banks of the river is extremely 
fertile, and well suited for cocoa and sugar culti- 

The direction which the Bayano river takes above 
Jesus-Maria is north-east for a distance of forty miles, 
up to Magee and Cahassas, where the first settle- 
ments of the Indians are located. Dr. Kratochwill 
knows several who have ascended it up to Magee 
and Cafiassas, but who were driven back by the 
aborigines, with the exception of Captain Norman 
Eude, who crossed the Cordilleras in that direction, 
guided by a coloured native called Pluma. This 
guide related: — "En el mes de Octubre de 1864 
(rainy season) hemos subido el Bayano hasta el rio 
Caiiita (about ten miles above Jesus-Maria), entremos 
el Canita y le subimos dos dias por agua y dos dias 
por tierra, siempre in direccion norte, y despues 
de esos cuatro dias de viage hemos tenido el mar 
del norte a la vista." A survey of this route would 
have been most interesting and valuable; unfortu- 
nately, although the engineers were on the spot, no 
surveys were made, owing to their fear of the Indians. 
"We know that the Indians of the Bayano proceed to 
the Atlantic in one day. 

On our arrival we found a few Bayano Indians at 
Jesus-Maria, which they frequently visit, though they 



do not allow any white man to return the compliment, 
and to this day they have never been conquered by 
the Spaniards or their descendants. They are of short 
stature, strongly built, and a cheerful cast of coun- 
tenance. The men — though, I believe, never the 
women — are occasionally seen at Panamd, where 
they make their purchases. They do not seem to 
understand exactly the value of money, and think 
that the true drift of making a bargain consists in 
offering a sum different to that demanded. I hap- 
pened to be in a shop when four of them came in to 
buy a comb, for which half-a-crown was asked, but 
the Indians said that unless the shopkeeper would 
take three shillings they could not think of having 
it. Some twenty years ago I made a vocabulary of 
their language,* never thinking that I should be 
able to make any practical use of it; but a few 
years ago, when enjoying the hospitality of Mr. 
Samuel Pittar's steam yacht in the Gulf of Triste, 
Venezuela, the people of Tucacas sent on board an 
Indian who had been left there they did not know 
by whom, and came they did not know whence. 
He was evidently an intelligent, good-humoured, and 
active lad, of about seventeen years of age, but spoke 
neither English, Spanish, nor any Indian dialect of 
Yenezuela. I had tried him with half-a-dozen Ame- 
rican languages of which I possessed some smatter- 

* Published in the ' Transactions of the American Ethnological 
Society.' I believe this was the first ever published. Shortly after, 
Dr. Cullen published his in the ' Eoyal Geographical Society's Journal.' 
The two supplement each other. 


ing, but lie seemed not to understand a syllable ; 
I then finally brought out a few words of Bayano, 
when all at once his face brightened up, and I found 
that he belonged to the tribe which speaks that lan- 
guage, and that he had taken passage at San Bias. 
He was dubbed " Friday " by us, and Mr. S. Pittar 
brought him to England when his yacht returned 
home. But poor Friday, though his kind master 
had given him plenty of warm clothing, was so much 
affected by our winter that when I saw him again I 
scarcely recognized him. He had lost all his agility, 
was gloomy, and always sitting near the fire ; so that 
nothing could be done with him except to send him 
home again. 

The Bayano Indians whom we met at Jesus-Maria 
were friendly, and much amused with a piece of ice 
which was handed to them. They had evidently 
never seen frozen water before, and thought it was a 
kind of hot transparent iron, which they instantly 
dropped when first put into their hands. But when 
their first astonishment had passed, they begged to 
have another piece, which they put into a calabash, 
and then, jumping into their canoe, they paddled off 
in great haste, probably wishing to show the curiosity 
obtained to their friends ; which, however, must have 
melted long before they reached their homes. 

We were away three days from Panama^, and the 
excursion was a most pleasant one. I am fully aware 
that a scientific man has no business to make a plea- 
sant excursion, and I ought to know better than say 
anything about it; but unfortunately the Panama^ 

m 2 


newspapers had reporters on board, who, after par- 
taking of all the good things, the ice, the wines, the 
champagne, and the French cookery, an accumulation 
of presents from all sides, must needs go and publish 
the whole proceedings. It was certainly too bad of 

Captain Dow having kindly asked me to be his 
guest during my stay at Panamd, I returned once 
more on board the c Guatemala,' from the anchorage 
of which off Flaminco one could plainly see the ruins 
of Old Panama^, the famous old city destroyed by the 
buccaneers. " Fine old ruins, that," I said in order to 
say something to the midshipman who took me off to 
H.M.S. Herald when I first joined her. "Very," re- 
plied my brother-in-law that was to be, " but dreadfully 
out of repair." Indeed they are dreadfully out of re- 
pair, but they will yet hang together some time longer, 
reminding us of the strange story connected with them. 
With the reader's permission, I will here once more tell 
that story, as it appeared in the second edition of my 
i History of the Isthmus of Panama ' (Panama^ : Boyd 
Brothers, 1868, 8vo), the materials for which were 
collected from every available source during my re- 
peated visits to the country between 1846-49. 






The treasure constantly conveyed across the Isthmus 
by the Spaniards from their rich possessions on the 
west coast of America did not escape the vigilant eyes 
of the pirates, who towards the middle of the sixteenth 
century, were beginning to get numerous in the Carib- 
bean Sea. The galleons were too well armed to suffer 
an attack to be made on them with impunity. Other 
schemes had therefore to be resorted to by these rovers. 
In 1572 the' Planche* ' and ' Swan' were fitted out in 
England, and the command given to Francis Drake and 
his brothers. The object of this expedition was to in- 
tercept a treasure of great value which was said to 
be carried from Panama to Nombre de Dios. Drake 
being joined on the coast of South America by an- 
other bark, landed at Nombre de Dios, dismounted the 
guns of the platform, and while the alarm-bells were 


ringing and drums beating, marched to the market- 
place. Here a desperate fight ensued, in which Drake 
received a wound, but knowing that if the general's 
heart stoops the men's will fail, he concealed it. One 
of his trusty fellows, Oxenham, and his brother, with 
sixteen men, proceeded to the king's treasure-house, and 
here piles of silver were found, and still more in the 
Governor's residence. Drake then told his men that 
" he had brought them to the treasury of the world, 
and if they did not gain it, none but themselves were 
to blame." Here, however, from loss of blood his 
strength failed him. His men bound up the wound, 
and carried him by main force to his pinnace. 

On recovering, Drake decided on crossing the Isth- 
mus ; but having lost many men by sickness, among 
them his brothers Joseph and John, he removed the 
remaining force to his own ship and pinnace. The 
' Swan ' was sunk. His object was to intercept on 
the Isthmus a train of mules laden with the king's 
treasure. On meeting it he attacked and chased the 
party in charge as far as Cruces, giving strict orders 
not to hurt women or unarmed men. In their wander- 
ings the invaders came to a high tree, and climbing it 
viewed with transports of joy the great Pacific, an 
ocean as yet entirely closed to English enterprise. 

Among those who accompanied Drake was one John 
Oxman, or Oxenham, who appears to have been a 
favourite with the captain, and who shortly afterwards 
returned to try his fortune in a hazardous scheme of 
privateering. In 1575, he arrived on the Atlantic 
side of the Isthmus, in a vessel of 140 tons, and with 

Chap. XL— B. S.] OXENHAM. 167 

only seventy men. Hearing that since the attempt of 
Drake the treasure of the Spaniards was strongly 
guarded, he devised a scheme of action equally bold 
and original. Drawing the ship on shore, he covered 
her with boughs of trees, buried the guns, except two 
small pieces, and leaving one man as a watch, he 
marched with the rest into the interior. He soon 
arrived at a river flowing towards the south. Here 
he built a pinnace forty-five feet in length, and in her 
went down stream into the South Sea. Directing his 
course to the Pearl Islands, he captured a bark con- 
taining 60,000 pesos of gold, and another from Lima 
with 100,000 pesos of silver. Not satisfied yet, he 
proceeded to the islands where pearls are mostly 
found. Having collected a small quantity, he set off 
with his pinnace and his prizes to the mouth of the 
river which he had descended, and having dismissed 
the two captured vessels, began to ascend it. The 
delay of fifteen days on the Pearl Islands proved fatal 
to him. The very night that he left those islands the 
negroes set off for Panama to give information of what 
had happened. Four barks, each with twenty-five 
armed men, besides negroes to row them, under the 
command of Juan de Ortega, were immediately sent 
in search of Oxenham. They fell in with the prizes 
which Oxenham had dismissed, and learnt from them 
the course which the pirates had taken. After row- 
ing several days against the stream, they arrived at 
the place where the treasure had been provisionally 
buried. This they hastened to carry off, well satisfied 
with their success. The English, returning to the 


spot and finding the treasure gone, followed with im- 
petuosity, and regardless of the inequality of number. 
The consequence was, that they fell into an ambush, 
and were totally defeated. A party of Spaniards soon 
after discovered Oxenham's ship, with the stores and 
ordnance, which he had taken such pains to conceal. 
The English who survived this train of misfortunes 
lived for some time among the Darien Indians, em- 
ployed in building canoes, in which they hoped to 
effect their escape. But at length they were taken by 
the Spaniards and carried to Panama, where Oxenham 
and his companions, with the exception of five boys, 
were put to death. Thus ended the first Englishmen 
who navigated the Pacific. 

Drake, after his famous voyage round the world, 
was employed by Queen Elizabeth against Philip II. 
In 1595 the Queen fitted out an expedition destined 
to strike a blow at the power of Spain, by attacking 
the West Indies. The armament, consisting of six 
ships, was unfortunate. Sir John Hawkins, one of 
the commanders, died; Drake's smallest ship was 
taken by the Spaniards, who, by putting her crew to 
the torture, extracted information respecting the plans 
of the expedition, and when Drake attacked Porto 
Eico he found it fully warned. Sailing away, he took 
and burnt Eiohacha, Eanchera, Santa Martha, and 
Nombre de Dios, getting no greater spoil than twenty 
tons of silver and two bars of gold. Whilst Drake re- 
mained in the harbour of Nombre de Dios, Sir Thomas 
Daskerville, with a part of the land forces, made an 
attempt to cross the Isthmus, and destroy the city of 


Panama. But a fatal disease broke out among the 
soldiers and sailors, and this also deprived them of the 
services of their chief surgeon. When many of his 
men and three of his captains had died, the hardy 
Drake himself fell sick, and after struggling some 
twenty days with his malady and the grief occasioned 
by his failure, he expired on the 28th of December, 
1595. On the same day the fleet anchored off Porto- 
belo, and in sight of the place which he had formerly 
taken and plundered, his body received a sailor's fu- 

The bold attempts of Oxenham and Drake filled the 
Isthmenians with apprehension, and prompted them 
to adopt a more regular system of defence than their 
fancied security hitherto seemed to demand. Little 
did they anticipate that these events were only the 
prelude to a fearful tragedy, of which their country 
was to become the theatre. The principal actors in 
this tragedy, whose names for nearly a century were 
the terror of the coast and the scourge of the sea, were 
the Buccaneers, an association equally singular and 
formidable, and called into existence by the despotic 
administration of the Spanish colonies. The Spaniards 
themselves felt oppressed by the restrictions placed on 
trade, and gave stealthy encouragement to foreign in- 
terlopers, who supplied them at an easier rate with 
articles which could not be legally procured without 
paying enormous exactions. English traders soon 
made their appearance ; and, as on the one hand the 
authorities treated them as enemies, or even as pirates, 
while on the other they were invited by the profits of 

170 DOTTENG8 ON THE ROADSIDE. [Chap. XL— 13. S. 

a contraband trade, they soon learned to adopt the 
precaution of going well armed. 

The cruelties of the Spaniards to the aborigines of 
Cuba terminated in the depopulation of that fine is- 
land. The cattle, at the same time, multiplied in 
great numbers, and roved over the deserted tracts of 
the western districts. This, in consequence, became 
the victualling place of all foreign vessels that cruised 
upon the Spanish Main or disturbed its trade. The 
preparation of the meat became a regular business. 
Spanish hunters killed the cattle ; the flesh was then 
dried and prepared according to the Carib method, on 
hurdles raised a few feet above the fire. This mode 
of dressing food was called by the Indians " boocan," 
a name also applied to the apparatus used in the pro- 
cess, and to the meat itself. Hence, the persons who 
were employed in procuring provisions for the cruisers, 
adopting the language with the habits of the natives, 
called themselves Buccaneers. A large majority of 
these adventurers were English ; and as their smug- 
gling trade quickly degenerated into actual piracy, 
they took the honourable designation of freebooters. 
There was a natural alliance between the freebooters 
and buccaneers ; they mutually depended on one 
another, the avocations of one party being at sea, 
those of the other on land. It is probable that in 
some instances the pirate cured his own provisions, 
and so united both professions in his own person. 
But in general the hunters were distinct from the sea- 
men, and in process of time, a majority of the hunters 
were French, while the rovers were chiefly English. 


Yet the adventurers of these two nations whimsically 
thought fit to borrow the name of their profession 
from the language of the other, as if the respectability 
of their calling could be enhanced, or its criminality 
palliated, by a foreign name. The English called 
themselves Buccaneers, while the French preferred 
the title of Freebooters, or corruptedly, Filibusters. 
All the adventurers, of whatever nation, made the 
Spaniards the sole object of attack. A sense of com- 
mon interest bound them together, and formed them 
into a society styling itself The Brethren of the Coast. 
The Buccaneers had peculiar customs, which either 
from necessity or tradition obtained the authority of 
law. Their code of morality was such as might be 
expected among men who, while they renounced a 
friendly intercourse with the rest of mankind, de- 
pended upon each other's fidelity. Every buccaneer 
had a mate, who was the heir to all his money. In 
some instances a community of property existed. 
Negligence of dress, and even dirtiness, was prescribed 
by their fashions as best befitting a desperado. But 
when, in case of war between their nations and the 
Spaniards, they could obtain commissions, they were 
always ready to take the name of privateers. 

European States regarded the increase of the buc- 
caneers with satisfaction. With the laxity of poli- 
tical morality then prevailing, they reasoned that 
they might profit by illegal proceedings, which at 
the same time they were not called upon to avow. 
Yarious settlements were made by adventurers 
throughout the West Indian islands, members of the 


same nation generally associating together; and as 
they grew into importance they were claimed by that 
crown of which a majority of the colonists were sub- 
jects. The pirates were pleased to find themselves 
countenanced or connived at by legal governments, 
and the colonies offering a prospect of an increased 
market for their trade. Becoming more confident in 
their strength, they seized on the little island of Tor- 
tuga. This was the first step of the buccaneers to- 
wards forming themselves into an independent body. 
The severity of the Spaniards soon after forced them 
to take one of still greater importance. A party of 
Spanish troops surprised Tortuga, while most of the 
buccaneers were hunting on the mainland or cruising 
in their vessels, and hanged those surprised as pirates 
without mercy or distinction. But national animosity 
and the love of gain have more influence than terror, 
and the ranks of the buccaneers, after their loss of 
Tortuga, were speedily recruited. From this blow 
they learnt the necessity of observing more regularity 
in their proceedings ; and for the first time, they 
elected a commander. As they acknowledged no 
claims to rank but conduct and courage, all their 
leaders were remarkable for personal prowess and 
daring exploits, but they never felt the compunctions 
of humanity, and cruelties stained the glory of their 

Among the most notorious and fortunate of these 
leaders ranks Henry Morgan, under whose govern- 
ment the affairs of the buccaneers obtained their most 
flourishing condition. Morgan was born in Wales, of 

Chap. XI.— B. S.] HENRY MORGAN. 173 

respectable parents. His father was a farmer, but 
young Morgan showed little inclination to follow his 
peaceful calling. At an early age he left home to 
seek employment more suited to his active mind, and 
on arriving at one of the seaports joined a vessel 
bound for Barbadoes. No sooner, however, had the 
destination been reached, than, according to the prac- 
tice of those times, Morgan was sold as a slave, and 
had to serve a series of years in that capacity. 
Having at last regained his freedom, he proceeded to 
Jamaica to try his fortune once more. There he found 
two piratical vessels ready for sea, and being without 
employment, he did not hesitate to join them. A 
new career was now opened to him. He soon acquired 
their manners and customs, and having, during several 
successful voyages, saved a little money, he agreed 
with some of his associates to join stock and buy a 
ship. This was readily executed, and Morgan chosen 
commander. He directed his course towards the coast 
of Campeachy, and returned to Jamaica with several 
captured vessels. Mansvelt, an old pirate, seeing 
Morgan in possession of such valuable prizes, formed 
a high idea of his piratical talents, and offered him 
the command of Vice-Admiral of a fleet, consisting of 
fifteen sail and five hundred men, which he was fitting 
out, and destined to invade the American continent. 
Morgan accepted the offer, and made himself promi- 
nent in the new situation. He took several places, 
and after the death of Mansvelt the office of Com- 
mander-in-Chief was unanimously conferred upon him. 
His exploits after this installation were of the 

174 DOTTING S ON THE ROADSIDE. [Chap. XI.— B. ft. 

boldest character. With a body of seven hundred 
men he took the town of Puerto del Principe in Cuba. 
His next undertaking was directed against Portobelo. 
lie had only four hundred and sixty men ; but his 
advance was so rapid, that he came on the town by 
surprise and found it unprepared. In storming the 
castle he compelled his prisoners, chiefly religious of 
both sexes, to apply the scaling-ladders to the walls. 
When the garrison surrendered, he shut them up 
in the castle, and, setting fire to the magazine, de- 
stroyed the fort and its defenders together. He after- 
wards sacked Maracaibo and the neighbouring town 
of Gibraltar; and, emboldened by success, he con- 
sulted with his officers which of the three places, Car- 
thagena, Veracruz, or Panama^, he should next attack. 
Panama was believed to be the richest, and on that 
city the lot fell. 

The opinion of the buccaneers was that it would be 
most expeditious to invade the Isthmus by ascending 
the river Chagres as far as Cruces, and thence pro- 
ceed by land to Panamd. Yet even this plan, the 
most feasible that could be devised, was attended with 
difficulties. The mouth of the river was guarded by 
the castle of San Lorenzo, which stood on a high 
rock, the top of which had been divided by a ditch 
into two parts, — palisades, filled with earth, encircled 
the building ; a drawbridge formed its only entrance ; 
towards the land it had four bastions, towards the sea 
two ; the southern side was rendered inaccessible by 
the steepness of the rock ; the northern by the bed of 
the river ; while the foot, protected by a battery, com- 

Chap. XL— B. S.] ATTACK ON CHAGRES. 175 

manded the mouth of the Chagres, which possessed, 
besides, the defence of a sunken rock. The garrison, 
consisting of three hundred and fourteen men, was 
well armed and prepared for an attack by previous 

Morgan would have proceeded in person to com- 
mence operations, but he was engaged in the island 
of Santa Catalina. To lose no time he sent four ships, 
a boat and four hundred men, under the command of 
Captain Brodely, to clear the way for the main force. 
No sooner did this flotilla arrive in sight of the castle, 
than the Spaniards opened fire so well directed and 
kept up with so much spirit, that the pirates were 
obliged to take refuge in a small bay about a league 
distant. Men less accustomed to hazardous under- 
takings would, probably, have deferred assaulting a 
place so well defended ; but the buccaneers, however 
discouraged, were ready to make a forrrfal attack. 
Landing early the next morning, they forced a pas- 
sage through the forest, and reached the castle about 
two o'clock in the afternoon. Though concealed by 
trees, their movements had been perceived, and they 
had hardly approached within cannon-shot, when fire 
was opened on them, killing several of their number 
before the assault could be made. However they 
continued to advance, holding the sword in one hand, 
the fireball in the other. But the garrison defended 
itself so well that the design to climb the walls and 
set fire to the palisades failed, and retreat became in- 

This repulse did not shake their resolution. At 


nightfall another assault was made. As before, their 
aim was to fire the palisades ; but they would proba- 
bly have met with no more success than on the former 
occasion, had not an accident lent assistance. In the 
height of the tumult a part of the building ignited. 
All eyes being turned towards the assailants, the fire 
remained unnoticed until reaching a barrel of gun- 
powder. The explosion that followed produced the 
utmost consternation within the walls, and, water 
being wanting, the flames spread with rapidity, illu- 
minating the scene of destruction, and showing to the 
trembling garrison the savage faces of the pirates. 
The latter had taken advantage of the confusion by 
setting fire to the palisades ; they now tried to climb 
the walls, but the Spaniards, anticipating this move- 
ment, threw down pots filled with combustible matter, 
and, fighting with bravery, succeeded for a while in 
checking the progress of the invaders ; yet, in spite of 
all their efforts, they continued to lose ground, and 
their numbers were rapidly dwindling away. At day- 
break the fortress was a mere ruin ; the flames ha cf 
made several breaches, earth had fallen into the ditch, 
and thus removed one of the greatest obstacles to the 
entry into the fort. Meanwhile the fighting was kept 
up, and about noon the English gained a breach, which 
was defended by twenty-five men, headed by the Go- 
vernor in person. A desperate struggle ensued ; the 
Governor, collecting all his men and disdaining any 
quarter, fought till a musket-shot laid him low. Eesist- 
ance was now at an end, the remainder of the garrison 
either escaped or precipitated themselves into the sea ; 

Chap. XI.— B. S.] ARRIVAL OF THE FLEET. 177 

and out of a body of three hundred and fourteen men, 
only thirty were made prisoners. 

The victory had been dearly purchased ; the pirates 
had one hundred killed and seventy wounded. From 
the prisoners it was learnt that the Governor of Panama 
had received notice of their intended invasion about 
three weeks previously, and, that in consequence of 
this information, he had sent one hundred and sixty- 
four men to strengthen San Lorenzo, placed ambus- 
cades on the banks of the Chagres, and collected two 
thousand six hundred men on the plains of Panama to 
repulse, if necessary, any attack on the capital. A 
vessel was immediately dispatched to acquaint the 
admiral of the buccaneers with the success achieved 
and the information extracted. Shortly after the 
whole piratical fleet hove in sight, and great was the 
rejoicing on board, when the English colours were 
seen waving from San Lorenzo, a castle hitherto deemed 
impregnable. The eagerness of the ships, however, 
to get into the river proved disastrous. Unacquainted 
with the sunken rocks at its entrance, four, among 
them that of Morgan, grounded, and the crews with 
difficulty saved their lives. 

The arrival of the fleet gave a fresh impulse to the 
execution of the invaders' plans. By compelling the 
Spanish prisoners to work, and by their own exer- 
tions, the castle was partially restored ; five hundred 
men were left for its defence, and the coasting- vessels 
which still remained in the river, and usually carried 
two or three guns, were seized ; in fine, every precau- 
tion was taken to secure a safe retreat. On the 18th 



of January, 1G71, all necessary arrangements were 
completed, and on that day Morgan embarked with 
one thousand two hundred men, in five boats and 
thirty-two canoes, for Panama. 

In ascending the river Chagres many impediments 
presented themselves, — a rapid current, a want of 
practice in managing the flat-bottomed and overloaded 
canoes, and the utmost scarcity of provisions. The 
ambuscades placed on the banks, which Morgan in- 
tended to surprise and plunder of their provisions, 
having been seized by the general terror which the 
fall of San Lorenzo had produced, had abandoned their 
position long before the buccaneers reached them, and 
left nothing save their traces behind. Exhausted with 
fatigue and tormented by hunger, six days had al- 
ready been spent without reaching Cruces, a village 
which under ordinary circumstances may be gained in 
thirty-six hours. Many of the pirates began to mur- 
mur and to curse the day when engaging in an under- 
taking which they now deemed beyond their power 
to accomplish. Morgan, however, backed by a large 
majority, succeeded in quelling the discontent, and 
tried to raise the spirits of his followers by brilliant 
promises of future gain and immediate prospects of 
plenty on arriving at Cruces. 

At last Cruces was reached, but how great was the 
disappointment on finding most of the houses in 
flames, the inhabitants fled, and, except sixteen jars 
of Peruvian wine, a bag full of bread, and several cats 
and dogs, provisions of every kind removed ! The 
march to Panamd was, therefore, pushed on with 


greater eagerness. After the canoes and boats had 
been sent some distance down the river to prevent 
their being taken by the Spaniards, the buccaneers 
entered the forest which stretched from Cruces to the 
plains of Panama. The Isthmenians had taken ad- 
vantage of its thickness, by placing in different parts 
Indians who, armed with bows, arrows, and javelins, 
attacked the invaders on various occasions, though 
without any serious result. 

In spite of every impediment the march was con- 
tinued, and on the ninth day after departing from 
Chagres, the first sight of the South Sea was ob- 
tained. After being so long among the darkness and 
monotony of primeval forests, the grandeur of the 
scene thus suddenly opening made even on the minds 
of the buccaneers a favourable impression. Before 
them rolled the Pacific Ocean, enlivened by ships, and 
the delightful group of islands justly termed the gar- 
den of Panama; and around them stretched plains 
with groves of gay-flowering trees and shrubs, nu- 
merous herds of cattle roving among them. The land- 
scape was so enchanting that all broke out in loud ac- 
clamations; and when towards evening the steeples 
of Panama were descried, the joy reached the highest 
pitch. Drums were beaten, guns discharged, trum- 
pets sounded, and, as if victory had already been ob- 
tained, a general content prevailed. After the camp 
had been pitched, bullocks were roasted, all fatigue 
seemed to be forgotten, and for the first time since 
the commencement of the invasion, sound sleep — un- 
disturbed by the bodies of soldiers who occasionally 

n 2 


appeared to watch their movements — visited their ex- 
hausted frames. 

The city of Panama was at that period a few miles 
westward of its present site. There are still the ruins 
of that once opulent place, though almost hid by a 
luxuriant vegetation; the remains of several public 
buildings, the tower of the Cathedral, the walls of the 
churches, bridges, turrets, cisterns, and partly the 
pavement of the streets, all overrun by huge fig-trees, 
pepper-bushes, and numerous creepers. But in vain 
does one seek for the enterprising community from 
which Pizarro drew his most daring followers for the 
conquest of Peru. The spot is deserted. Unhealthy 
exhalations and noxious insects prevent any human 
being from inhabiting it, and pumas, iguanas, alliga- 
tors, and snakes now occupy the places where formerly 
the conquest of an empire was planned. 

On the day previous to Morgan's assault, Panamd 
presented a different aspect. Seven thousand houses, 
composed of the precious woods in which the country 
abounds, formed several stately streets. Two thou- 
sand of the buildings, historians tell us, were truly 
magnificent ; fine paintings adorned the walls, costly 
hangings the balconies and verandas. Eight con- 
vents — seven of which were inhabited by monks, one 
by nuns — arose in different parts. The two churches 
were richly decorated, and ornamented with altar- 
pieces from the hands of the first artists, and gold 
and silver vessels. A hospital afforded shelter to the 
sick ; the Genoese also had a stately house for their 
trade in negroes; and numerous stables existed for 

Chap. XL— B. S.] THE BATTLE. 181 

the beasts that carried the king's treasure to Cruces 
and Portobelo, or served for other commercial pur- 
poses. Nor had measures of defence been forgotten. 
Towards the land the city was protected by strong 
fortifications, and towards the sea its situation was 
such that, on account of the shoal water which left at 
ebb tide nearly for two miles nothing save bare rocks, 
no vessel could approach it. The vicinity was con- 
verted into plantations and gardens, in which the fair 
Panamenians enjoyed the freshness of the morning or 
partook of the cooling breezes of the tropical evening. 
The inhabitants were mostly merchants who employed 
a vast number of slaves. Many skilful mechanics and 
artisans, encouraged by a ready market at the time of 
the Portobelo fair, and a number of opulent citizens, 
had taken up their residence here. Panama, besides 
being the See of a Bishop and the seat of the Provin- 
cial Government, contained many ecclesiastical and 
civil officers, with their usual train of attendants. It 
was this city which a few boats' crews dared to at- 
tack ! which was to fall before a handful of pirates ! 

A faint purple had hardly announced the dawn of 
the 27th of January, 1671 — the last day which the 
devoted place, after a short but brilliant existence of 
152 years, was to witness — when the drums and trum- 
pets called the buccaneers to the attack, and made 
them conscious that the time had arrived when they 
must either defeat their enemies, or fall themselves 
victims to their own daring plans. Adopting the ad- 
vice of the guides they avoided the direct road leading 
to the city, on which ample preparations had been made 


for their repulse, and took another which traversed a 
wood, and though that was rather irksome and difficult 
to pass, it had the advantage of avoiding the ambus- 
cades and batteries. 

When daylight was fully established, they found 
themselves on a little hill, still known by the name of 
" Cerro de Advance," from the top of which they per- 
ceived the full extent of the forces they had to con- 
tend with. The Spaniards were arranged in battle 
array, and their forces consisted of two squadrons of 
horse and four regiments of foot ; they had besides a 
number of wild bullocks, driven by Indians and ne- 
groes, by which odd addition they hoped to destroy 
an enemy whom they fancied ignorant of bull-fighting. 
The buccaneers, surprised at beholding a force so 
much superior to their own, would instantly have re- 
linquished all thoughts of attack had an alternative 
been left them. But there was no choice. Dividing 
themselves into three battalions, two hundred men, 
the most skilful at their guns were sent as an advance 
guard, whilst the main body descended the hill, 
marching straight towards the enemy. These move- 
ments were the mutual signal for action. The Spa- 
niards, shouting " Yiva el Rey," immediately pushed 
forward their cavalry, accompanied by some of the 
foot regiments ; but before they had time to inflict any 
injury Morgan's advance guard discharged upon them 
a volley of musketry. The fighting now became gene- 
ral, and both sides displayed the utmost courage ; the 
Spaniards, however, soon perceived that they had no 
longer naked Indians to contend with ; that, on the 

Chap. XL— B. S.] ENTRY INTO THE CITY. 183 

contrary, their opponents belonged to a race superior 
to themselves in courage and physical force. 

After two hours' hard fighting, the Panamenians 
began to waver ; their cavalry could not act advan- 
tageously on the boggy ground, and most of the 
horsemen were killed. Finding themselves baffled 
in this manner they had recourse to the bullocks, 
driving them from behind to create confusion ; but the 
wild cattle, frightened by the unwonted noise, mostly 
ran away, and the few that broke through the lines of 
the buccaneers were easily slain. The horsemen were 
the first who fled from the field ; they were soon fol- 
lowed, however, by the infantry, who, seeing their 
companions deserting them, discharged their muskets, 
threw down their arms and seconded them in their 
cowardice. Those that were not so fortunate as to 
effect their escape hid themselves among the man- 
groves, where, when discovered, they were killed 
without mercy. Six thousand Spaniards were dyeing 
the savanas with their blood, and a considerable 
number of pirates shared the same fate. 

The great prize lay now within grasp ; it was neces- 
sary to seize it before additional forces could withhold 
it. Morgan, elated by success, ordered an instant as- 
sault on the city, and without any loss of time the 
infuriated multitude advanced towards the gates. 
The combat now became terrible ; one party fighting 
for the possession of those golden treasures which had 
always been the fame of the country and the envy of 
foreigners, the other defending their homes, their 
wives, their children, all that was dear to them. The 


Panamcnians displayed great heroism, but considerable 
as was the havoc which their grape and musket shots 
occasioned, great as was the number of assailants that 
fell, the buccaneers could not be repulsed. At last, 
after three hours of close combat, the citizens were 
vanquished, and their conquerors entered triumphantly 
the " Golden Cup," the object of all their toil and 

Thus fell Panama, in those days one of the most 
opulent cities on the American continent. It did not 
fall before an army, backed by the power and influ- 
ence of a great nation, but before a band of adven- 
turers, the mere scum of European society. Could, at 
that moment, the old Panamcnians have risen from 
their graves, they would have uttered a cry of distress 
on beholding their offspring praying for mercy at the 
feet of rovers. Many of the citizens were only the 
grandchildren of those men who discovered or ex- 
plored the boundless shores of the Pacific Ocean, — the 
grandchildren of those men who overran Central 
America, Yeraguas, and Darien, and added the em- 
pires of Quito, Peru, and Chile to the dominions of 
the Spanish crown. 

After the confusion had abated, Morgan assembled 
his men, and knowing their propensity of indulging 
too freely in the use of intoxicating beverages after a 
victory, he pretended to have received information 
that poison had been introduced into the cellars. The 
pretence was so plausible that it completely served its 
purpose, preventing debauchery, which must have 
proved their inevitable ruin, when considerable bodies 


of the enemy were still in the neighbourhood and 
ready to take advantage of any neglect on the part 
of their foes, in order to recapture the city. . Pa- 
nama was now formally ransacked. It was found to 
contain great warehouses, well stored with all kinds 
of valuable merchandise, but as these articles were 
generally too bulky to be much appreciated, the buc- 
caneers looked more for the precious metals which 
could be conveyed across the country with comparative 
ease. In this respect, however, they were grievously 
disappointed ; the ornaments of the churches and con- 
vents, the King's plate and jewels, as well as most 
other valuables, had been placed on board a vessel, 
which, though badly provisioned, and with only one 
sail on the mainmast, had effected its escape. The 
intelligence had hardly been communicated to Morgan, 
when he sent a large boat with twenty-five men, en- 
treating them to use every means in their power to 
overtake so valuable a prize. 

The Panamenians had hitherto little felt the conse- 
quences of their defeat, but they were to drain the 
cup of bitterness to the very bottom. Morgan gave, 
privately, orders to set fire to the principal buildings ; 
the flames, aided by a strong breeze, soon spread about, 
and consumed a whole street in an hour. The pirates, 
who were mostly ignorant of the real origin of the 
fire, aided by the inhabitants, tried to quench it by 
pulling down houses or blowing them up with gun- 
powder. All was of no avail. Before night the 
greater portion of Panamd was reduced to ashes, and 
of the beautiful city nothing remained save a heap of 


smoking ruins. Morgan, when accused by his fol- 
lowers of this impolitic atrocity, pointed to the Spa- 
niards as the originators. This assertion, however, 
found no credit. He delighted in anything cruel, and 
had probably no other motive for this incendiary act 
than Nero had when he wanted to enjoy the sight of 
a great conflagration. 

Most of the buccaneers were still encamped out- 
side the walls, closely united for fear of an attack ; 
but when, after a lapse of several days, they perceived 
that there need be no apprehension on that head, 
they re-entered the city and deposited the sick in 
the few buildings that had escaped destruction. A 
careful search was made among the ruins for utensils 
of plate and gold, by means of which they obtained, 
especially from the wells and cisterns, considerable 
quantities. To acquire still more, parties of two hun- 
dred men were dispatched into the country. These 
expeditions were successful, making a considerable 
number of prisoners, and gathering a great amount of 
valuables. In order to make the captives confess 
where the treasures were concealed, they were sub- 
jected to the most cruel tortures, the bare recital of 
which is horror-striking. The poor wretches could 
seldom stand the diabolical treatment, and many ex- 
pired under its application. 

The twenty-five men sent in pursuit of the rich 
vessel came back, bringing several prizes. They had 
failed, however, in the real object of their mission, 
having given themselves up to debauchery instead of 
proceeding at once on their voyage, and thus enabled 

Chap. XL— B. S.] STRATAGEM. 187 

the prize to escape. The rage of Morgan knew no 
bounds, and he instantly dispatched three other boats 
to renew the search, which cruised several days and 
visited many ports and creeks, but met with no suc- 
cess. Their disappointment, however, was in some 
measure relieved by capturing a boat, and afterward 
at Taboga, a ship just arrived from Payta and laden 
with provisions, merchandise, and twenty thousand 
pieces of eight. 

A convoy, which had been sent to Chagres to ac- 
quaint those left in charge of the castle with the vic- 
tory of Panama, returned about the same time. The 
pirates of that place had dispatched two boats to cruise, 
which, meeting with a Spanish vessel, chased her in 
sight of the castle. The look-out on the tower per- 
ceiving the manoeuvre, instantly hoisted Spanish co- 
lours. The stratagem was successful. The vessel, in 
seeking refuge under the cannon of the stronghold, 
was boarded and plundered. Her cargo consisted 
chiefly of provisions, which proved a most welcome 
and timely supply, relieving the pirates from all fear 
of starvation. This news was joyfully received, and 
induced Morgan to prolong his stay at Panama. New 
excursions were made, and a heavy ransom imposed on 
every prisoner ; if, after applying the torture, the un- 
fortunate beings proved unable to produce the requi- 
site sum, no quarter was granted, no sex or condition 
spared ; the old and the young, men as well as women, 
all were equally objects of hatred and cruelty. 

More than three weeks had now elapsed since the 
commencement of the dreadful catastrophe, and the 


chief began to think earnestly about his departure, 
when a plot was discovered which retarded it for 
awhile. In leading the buccaneers across the Isthmus, 
Morgan had opened to them a new field of enterprise. 
The great Pacific Ocean, of whose riches they had 
heard so much, and whose waters they had never navi- 
gated, stretched in all its majesty before them. The 
prospect was so tempting, that a considerable number 
conceived the plan of leaving Morgan, and proceed- 
ing to Europe by way of the East Indies. They 
intended to take the ship lately captured at Taboga, 
and had already secretly gathered provisions and naval 
stores, when their proceedings were discovered. Mor- 
gan's resolution was instantly taken. He issued orders 
to cut down the mainmast, and burn it together with 
all the boats and coasting vessels that had been seized. 
Thus a separation was prevented which must have 
proved fatal to all engaged in the invasion. 

The preparations for the departure were actively 
resumed. Many of the prisoners received permission 
to seek for money to ransom themselves, from their 
relations or friends ; the whole of the artillery was 
spiked, and a strong party sent in search of the Go- 
vernor, who, it was reported, intended to make an 
attack. It was soon ascertained, however, that though 
he entertained such an intention, the people under his 
command, disheartened by their recent misfortune, 
had refused to comply with his orders. At last all 
was in readiness for a start, and on the 24th of Febru- 
ary, 1671, the pirates left the still smoking ruins, 
carrying off six hundred prisoners, and one hundred 

Chap. XL— B. S.] HOMEWARD MARCH. 189 

and seventy-five beasts of burden laden with spoil. 
One party of the pirates marched in the van, another 
in the rear, and the captives in the centre. "When 
the march commenced, lamentations and shrieks were 
heard on all sides. The women begged on their 
knees to restore them to liberty, and not take them 
from their native land, but Morgan remained deaf to 
their solicitations, and unmoved by their tears. On 
arriving at the village of Cruces, it was proclaimed 
that every one who was not ransomed within three 
days would be transported as a slave to Jamaica. 
Many were released by their friends and relations, 
but a great number were not so fortunate, and these, 
together with some of the inhabitants of Cruces, were 
led into hopeless captivity. 

After collecting all the rice and Indian corn that 
could be obtained, the buccaneers departed from the 
last-named village on the 5th of March, taking the same 
route as before, the river Chagres. When nearly half- 
way, Morgan commanded a general halt, and muster- 
ing ; every one was obliged to take his oath that he 
had not concealed or appropriated to himself a particle 
of the spoil. As might have been expected, this so- 
lemnity proved a mere farce among a community of 
men whose morality was of so lax a nature ; it was 
therefore necessary to have a different mode of inves- 
tigation. By common consent each company ap- 
pointed an inspector, and the chief was the first who 
submitted himself to their search. The French assist- 
ing in the expedition had a great aversion to these 
proceedings, and loudly protested against it; but 


forming the minority, they had to submit. After the 
search had been gone through all re-embarked, and 
arrived at Chagres on the 9th of March. 

A boat was sent to Portobclo to ask the Spanish 
authorities for a ransom of the castle of San Lorenzo. 
Their answer, however, as had been anticipated, was 
that Morgan might do whatever he pleased, they would 
not give a single real for the place. It was accordingly 
razed to the ground, and, there being no further pro- 
spect of booty, the spoil was divided. This proceeding 
gave rise to much disappointment ; instead of the 
golden treasures expected to be divided, each man, 
after all the toil and danger he had undergone, re- 
ceived only the scanty sum of two hundred pieces of 
eight ; the rest Morgan kept for himself. The whole 
community was exasperated in the highest degree, and 
loudly demanded their proper share ; no sooner, how- 
ever, did Morgan see difficulties arising than he slipped 
his cable, and, accompanied by four other ships, his 
accomplices in the fraud, effected his escape to Ja- 
maica. The indignation of the fleet knew no bounds 
on finding themselves deserted, cheated in the grossest 
manner, and unprovided with every necessary for the 
continuation of the voyage. 

With this act Morgan seems to have concluded his 
piratical career. He was undoubtedly a man who 
not only displayed infinite bravery, but the highest 
qualities of a great commander ; unhappily, however, 
like most of his predecessors, he was cruel, blood- 
thirsty, and treacherous. He was afterwards knighted 
by Charles II., and became successively Commissioner 


of the Admiralty Court in Jamaica, and Deputy Go- 
vernor of that island. The elevation of the ruffian to 
these high posts has been censured, and called an 
unwise act. It was far from being so. England, 
at that period, began to perceive the full danger of her 
policy towards the buccaneers, and became sensible 
that it was high time to put a stop to their proceedings. 
Their suppression, however, was attended with great 
difficulties. An association so deeply rooted was not 
so easily disbanded, and, though Jamaica and the 
other English colonies in the "West Indies were suffered 
to be no longer the resting-place of villains and rovers, 
no ordinary authority could act effectually towards its 
dispersion. It became, therefore, absolutely necessary 
to select a person of their own caste — a kind of Vidocq 
— who was thoroughly acquainted with every detail 
of the association, and possessed a perfect knowledge 
of the entire ramifications of the piratical system. No 
man was better qualified for this service than Henry 
Morgan, once their notorious chief, and that those who 
availed themselves of this instrument had not miscal- 
culated was sufficiently proved by subsequent events. 
Morgan exercised the utmost severity towards his 
former associates, and was one of the most effectual 
checks to their future operations. 

The destruction of the city of Panama had been so 
complete that the authorities availed themselves of the 
opportunity of shifting the settlement from its low 
and unhealthy position to the little peninsula six miles 
westward, which communicating only on one side with 
the mainland, and being unapproachable from the sea 


side by vessels of any size, offered great advantages 
for defence, and possessed a more sahibrions climate, 
— conditions which not only the late invasion dictated, 
but the health of the colonists demanded. The re- 
building commenced in 1673, two years after Mor- 
gan's exploit. The new city was strongly fortified; 
and, since wood had proved so fatal, all the houses 
were ordered to be constructed of stone. Many of 
the Panamenians were adverse to the shifting of the 
capital, and still continued residing in the old city — 
or Panamd Viejo, as henceforward it was termed, — but 
gradually they followed the common tide ; and before 
many years elapsed the spot was entirely deserted. 






Leaving Panama on the 22nd of June, 1865, 1 reached 
Southampton on the 12th of July, and, after a short 
rest, returned once more to Nicaragua, in order to 
take possession of the mine I had bought. I made 
the best of my way to Granada, and thence crossing 
Lake Nicaragua in the American steamer, landed 
at San Ubaldo, where Don Lucas Quiroz, the vendor 
of the property, had mules waiting to convey me to 
his estate of La Merced. Don Lucas was busy mark- 
ing the young cattle, a task which, on these large 
estates, takes some time, as the cattle rove about the 
plains and have to be driven into the yards by a num- 
ber of men mounted on swift horses. It was quite an 
exciting scene when a fresh batch — about 100 at a 
time — arrived, the men shouting, gesticulating, swing- 
ing their lassos, and galloping furiously to keep the 



cattle together. On all these estates it is customary, 
during this work, that the men have a race before 
breakfast, at least so Don Lucas told me. Two horse- 
men always start together, and as soon as one gets 
about five yards ahead, even at the very outset, the 
other gives up the game, thinking it hopeless to try 
recovering lost ground by continuing. 

There are a great number of stingless honey-bees in 
the hollow trees and branches about these plains ; and 
whenever anybody finds a hive, he cuts the branch off 
or trunk clown, and carries it home, where it is hung 
up, and in due time, generally in March, is cleared of 
its honey. These bees are very particular, keeping a 
sentry at the entrance of their hive, which always 
makes room whenever one of the inmates wants either 
to get in or out. I believe this stingless species is not 
found at any greater altitude than about 500 feet 
above the sea ; at least, I never saw any about the 
Javali, which is nigh 2000 feet ; but to make up, as 
it were, for that deficiency, the mine is blessed by a 
very impertinent set of wasps, which build their nest 
under the thatch of houses, and get furious on being 
interfered with. I was stung by one on the upper lip, 
in consequence of which my face was swollen for three 
days, and one of my eyes quite closed, though I ap- 
plied all available remedies to allay the inflammation. 

About La Merced, and, I may acid, in many other 
parts of the country, I noticed a goodly number of the 
trees which yield the dyewood known by the name of 
Fustic in commerce {Madura tinctoria). It belongs 
to the Mulberry family, and is termed "Mora" by the 


natives. The fruit is sweet and edible. The wood 
might be profitably collected for export if there were 
any good ways of communication, as it fetches some- 
times as much as £5 per ton in Liverpool. At present 
nobody notices it. 

Don Lucas and one of his sons accompanied me to 
the Javali. We left the estate at noon on the 23rd of 
November, and arrived at the mine on the following 
day towards sunset, riding across country, and passing 
the farm of Cunagua, where we stayed for the night. 
There had been a few slight showers since I had landed 
at San Ubaldo, but on the whole the weather had been 
fine, and the dry season was evidently beginning to 
set in on the plains. But it was different in the 
wooded mountains of Chontales, where the roads were 
yet in a dreadful state, and the rains still very heavy. 
In order to reach our destination the second day, we 
were obliged to leave our cargo -mules behind, and the 
consequence was that during the first night at the 
Javali we found it so cold — a strong northerly breeze 
blowing — that we could not get warm under the little 
covering we had brought with us. I may remark that 
one can sleep all the year round under blankets, unmo- 
lested by any mosquitoes, in the Chontales mountains, 
though their elevation above the sea is but 2000 feet 
in the parts where the principal mines are situated. 
This is one great element to be taken into considera- 
tion in speculating on the ultimate success of foreign 
enterprise in this region. 

No sooner had possession been given of the mines 
than Captain Holman and I put our heads together 

o 2 


to place the mode of working the mine on a proper 
footing. We planned three tunnels, which we named 
respectively the Pollock, Pirn, and Salmon tnnnels, 
and shafts to connect them ; and made contracts for 
tramways, to do away with the crnel and wasteful 
manner of raising all the ore of the mine, even that 
from the lowest depths, on men's heads, and carrying 
it in the same manner, for a quarter of a mile, to the 
mills. We had many obstacles to overcome, but by 
slow degrees the whole place began to assume a more 
tidy and business-like appearance, so that those who 
had not seen it for a time hardly recognized it again. 

Although the gold region of Chontales is very 
close to the Atlantic Ocean, yet there is no direct 
road between it and the seaboard, and all commu- 
nication is kept up by way of the river San Juan 
and Lake Nicaragua. Passengers are discharged at 
San Ubaldo, where, during the wet season, they 
have to traverse the most awful swampy plains ima- 
ginable. They have, whether they like it or not, 
to plunge into holes filled with mud and water, that 
make the hair of any novice in Central American 
travelling stand on end. One of my companions, 
who had never seen any other roads than those of 
England, despondingly inquired whether we could not 
go round when we came to the first of these mud-holes, 
from which a Calif ornian, out " prospecting," was 
struggling with all his might to extricate himself and 
his wretched mule. My old shipmate, the late Cap- 
tain J. Hill, K.N., has fixed the geographical position 
of St. Domingo, one of the larger mines, making 

Chap.XIL— B.S.] PENA BLANCA. 197 

the latitude by observation, 12° 16' N"., and the longi- 
tude, from chart, 84° 59' W. This leaves but a short 
distance between the principal mines and the seaboard, 
and from Pena Blanca, which is the highest known 
peak of Chontales, and may be about 2500 feet above 
the sea, you can make out the hills about Blewfields, 
though not the ocean itself. The vegetation of Pena 
Blanca is distinct from that of any other mountain- 
top I have seen in Chontales. I found there a fine 
purple Lobelia, a scarlet caulescent orchid (Ornitho- 
rhynchos), and a crimson Macleania. Much to my 
regret, many of the woody plants had been destroyed 
by fire. On my last ascent the gentleman who had 
kindled the flame was with me, and was somewhat 
astonished when, instead of receiving unqualified 
praise for having cleared the view, I told him it 
was fortunate, standing as we did on the brink of a 
yawning precipice, that the enraged botanist within 
me was somewhat mollified by my appreciation of 
the fine landscape which he had, as it were, unrolled. 
Pena Blanca commands a very fine view. On ac- 
count of the denseness of the forest, you cannot see 
any rivers, though they discharge themselves into the 
Atlantic, the Javali entering the Mico, and the Mico 
the Blewfields ; but you can see the Javali lode of au- 
riferous quartz rocks for several miles, and distinctly 
trace the various branches (which in many instances 
have proved extremely rich) running into it. Further 
on, the eye, passing over dense virgin forests, encoun- 
ters green savanas. The view is bounded on the east 
by hills near Blewfields, on the west by Lake Nicara- 


gua and its characteristic islands. What a capital sub- 
ject for a geographical paper an exploration of this dis- 
trict would afford ! It is truly virgin ground, where 
here and there you may meet a few families of In- 
dians, — " Caribs " the half-castes of Nicaragua call 
them, though they do not practise the flattening of the 
head and other customs deemed peculiar to that race. 
At my suggestion, a meeting was called at St. Do- 
mingo of all those who had either been from Chontales 
to Blewfields, or who were interested in opening up 
a direct road between them. A good many responded 
to the call, and I elicited much useful information, 
tending to show that it was practicable to cut a road 
from Javali to Quisalala (Kisalala), the navigable part 
of the Blewfields river. This induced me to urge 
the desirability of cutting a picket to the Blewfields 
Eiver, which would shorten the distance between 
England and the mines by several days. The task 
was accordingly taken in hand by the Central Ame- 
rican Association, and the following report on the 
subject, addressed to me by Mr. Hermann Melzer, the 
Government Surveyor of Chontales, will show what 
progress has been made up to this moment: — -" On 
leaving Nicaragua the last time, you engaged at Leon 
a German, Mr. Hermann Grunnow, who last year 
began opening up the Picket from the Javali to the 
navigable parts of the Blewfields Eiver, and who, 
after a temporary interruption, some time ago resumed 
his work. The manager of the Javali not being able 
to inspect the Picket as far as it has now been cut, 
Mr. Fairburn and myself, accompanied by one of my 


Indian lads, were induced to do so. On the morning 
of May 27 we started from my farm at the Quebrada 
de las Lajas, mounted on mules, and carrying four 
days' provisions. Following the Pavon road we soon 
entered the Blewfields Picket, which leads for some 
distance along the banks of the Javali. About a mile 
distance from Pavon it attains considerable elevation, 
and enables one to enjoy a most beautiful view of the 
surrounding country. About four miles off there is a 
fine quebrada and waterfall flowing towards the south; 
about five miles off one has to re-cross the Javali, 
which at that point is a considerable river, and flows 
northwards ; at eight miles distance one meets with a 
quebrada and a small hut built last year : at this hut 
we could hear distinctly the blowing of a horn, and 
found several Cedro-trees (Cedrela odorata), cut down, 
probably, for canoes, to be taken down the river 
during the rainy season ; for, in my opinion, this que- 
brada must be the Eio Volul of the map. Nine miles 
off one meets with another quebrada, and then has 
to climb a high hill. Here commences a regular 
Coyolal (palm grove), which extends over a plateau of 
at least four miles, the palm-trees being so close and 
regular that the whole grove looks as if planted. The 
trees were heavily laden with four to eight bunches 
of coyol nuts ; and there were also many of the so- 
called Corozo palms (Attalea Cohune), which, by their 
gigantic size and singular flowers, presented a beau- 
tiful appearance. Eleven miles off the quebrada has 
sufficient water to drive a mill for the purpose of 
making coyol oil, which, in my opinion, might prove 


a profitable business where, as is here the case, it 
could be carried on on a large scale, there being mil- 
lions of these oil-yielding palms. At a distance of 
sixteen miles we arrived at a rather considerable river, 
which we afterwards found to be the Eio Volul of 
the Indians. We pitched our camp near a small que- 
brada, which was dashing over a flat rock into the 
river. Our hammocks were soon hung up, a fire kin- 
dled, and supper got ready. Distant thunder induced 
us to make a tent of our waterproof cloaks, but this 
precaution was unnecessary, as we had no rain, and 
only this day (June 6) have we had the first showers 
in the Chontales district. I have never traversed 
a wilderness like this without meeting some kind of 
animal life ; but during the whole time which we 
spent in these forests there was not a single chance 
of firing off our guns — we did not even hear a tiger. 
On the next day we followed the southern banks of 
the river for about four miles ; the bed is stony, and 
there is but a slight current, and here and there 
rapids. The banks are high, even, and never become 
inundated. There is a quantity of wild Cacao [Theo- 
hroma Cacao) , and also of the small Cacao (Herrania 
purpurea) , which you took to England with you ; of 
course, conclusive proof of the fertility of the soil. 
We also found a little sugar-cane, which may have 
been planted by the Indians. At twenty miles dis- 
tant we crossed the river, for when Grunnow was 
working there he met with two canoes carrying six 
Indians, from whom he obtained some fish in ex- 
change for tobacco. One of the Indians spoke a little 


English, and knew Captain Pirn ; the river they called 
the Volul, said that it emptied itself into the Mico, 
and that Grunnow would do well to keep more to the 
north, as the southern side was rather hilly. The 
Indians were going to Blewfields on business. Grun- 
now has now taken a more northerly direction, and I 
advised him as soon as he does come upon a large 
river to follow it along (as it can be only the Javali 
or the Secio) until he meets with some Indians who 
could tell him whether the river is navigable or not, 
for the Secio is known to be so many miles above 
Aguas Muertes. At twenty-one miles distance there 
is a fine waterfall, around which the Indians have suc- 
ceeded in making a road, for the purpose of hauling 
their canoes along. The fall is formed by a large, 
flat, projecting rock, and during the rainy season 
it must be a miniature Magara. At a distance of 
twenty-four miles we arrived at Grunnow's tent, 
where we remained for the night, returning the next 
day to the Javali. Since then the following letter has 
been received from Grunnow, which shows his pro- 
gress up to June the 14th. ' At present,' he says, i I 
have advanced from the mouth of the Quebrada Alegre 
thirty-one miles. Up to the river Volul the direction 
followed was 13° If. by E., the hills met with being 
of but slight importance, and could hereafter easily be 
avoided if desirable. Three miles and a half on the 
right-hand of the Volul river I found only one small 
hill, which, by a short detour, could be avoided en- 
tirely. Its direction is easterly, of the end southerly. 
The one and a half mile cut on the left bank of the 


same river runs in one place towards the north. We 
now see that the track should have followed the river, 
as there is better ground on its bank, the country 
being gently rolling. The twenty-third and twenty- 
fourth miles run from the river Volul towards the 
north. This section could be laid on a perfect level if 
desired. The twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth miles of 
the cutting now run IOT.E. By expending a little 
more time in looking for a better trail, we could also 
have run this section over a perfect level. At the 
twenty-sixth mile I crossed a slowly-running river, 
which had a course from N.N.E. to S.S.W. The 
twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth miles are thickly 
covered with two different kinds of grass, one called 
" Cariso;" and their direction is 40° K". by E. "We 
find quite as much trouble in cutting through the grass 
as through the wood, as it is so very high, thick, and 
rank. The trees are very large indeed, but the country 
is generally open and level, and the soil rich. At the 
commencement of the twenty -ninth mile we again met 
with an abundance of excellent timber, and many 
springs of clear water. The thirtieth mile is level, 
but somewhat broken by ravines and gulches, as is 
also the thirty-first : both are well timbered. The 
last three miles' cutting passes through high table- 
land. Their general direction is 30° N.N. by E. 
Towards the south the land is hilly.' Grunnow cuts 
about half a mile a day ; and soon I hope to be able 
to inform you that the object of his exploration has 
been attained, that the first Picket bringing the 
settled parts of Chontales in direct connection with 


the Atlantic seaboard has been cut, and a country 
completely unknown geographically roughly explored. 
I gave Grunnow the advice to go himself down to 
Blewfields, and return, if possible, by way of Carca, 
the Indian settlement, which we meant to visit during 
your stay in the country." Thus far Mr. Melzer. 

On the 16th of March I had the pleasure of wel- 
coming at the mine my friends Captain Bedford Pirn, 
B.N., and his travelling companion, Lieut. Oliver, E.A. 
Their arrival was made the occasion of a nocturnal 
fete, such as had, up to that time, never been wit- 
nessed in those parts. By the natives it was thought 
truly splendid. After all our people and as many of 
their friends as they liked to invite had partaken of a 
hot supper and as much grog as they wished to drink, 
some fireworks which one of our men had contrived 
were displayed before the principal house, and some 
transparencies with inscriptions complimentary to the 
guests lit up. After that a band of music- — vile be- 
yond description, but absolutely charming in the opi- 
nion of the natives — struck up, and dancing — such 
dancing, was kept up till an early hour. I don't 
think that Captain Pirn altogether thanked me for 
having permitted the fete, as the natives were perhaps 
rather too demonstrative in expressing over and over 
again their gratitude to him for having done so much 
for their country as he has done. Fond as he would 
have been to move about freely amongst the gay 
scene, he had to sit indoors nearly all night to escape 
hearing his praises ad nauseam shouted into his ears. 

At this nocturnal fete there were several pure 


Indians, amongst them the son of the one who had 
shown the Javali for three cows, and who was then 
working on the mine. A pnre American Indian is 
always a subject of interest, — destined as he seems to 
be to disappear from the earth, in order to make room 
for the negro, Aryan, and Mongol, the only three 
races who at present show no sign of decadence. 
But races have their youth and old age as well as 
species and individuals ; and nature, I suppose, has 
not been less generous to the American Indian than 
to the rest of mankind. My belief is that he had his 
fair innings. In the southern parts of North America, 
where his disappearance is close at hand, we find him 
associated with a flora which, during the Molasse or 
Miocene period of our globe, extended across the At- 
lantic to Europe, and — according to my theory, too 
long to develop e here — it is not improbable that he 
occupied Europe ages before the Aryan race left its 
Asiatic home. When the flora of the Miocene period 
was swept away in Europe, and the island of Atlantis 
sank below the level of the ocean, the American In- 
dian disappeared with them in those parts, though he 
survives to this day in the southern parts of the North 
American continent. He represents, if my conjectures 
be right, a race much older than the races that have 
supplanted him. A similar change, slow it is true, but 
none the less certain, is now going on in the southern 
hemisphere, where a still older flora, which also at one 
time extended to Europe, and a still older human race 
are disappearing.* 

* See my article on "New Holland in Europe," in Hardwicke's 
' Popular Science Review.' 


As soon as New Holland shall haye been broken up 
into islands, as Unger predicts it will be, we may ex- 
pect its vegetation to assume the same aspect as that 
now presented by the Polynesian islands. The bulk 
of the plants, adapted as they are to the peculiar dry 
climate of the extratropical parts, would perish as 
soon as the climate became insular, and the Asiatic 
flora, which even now presses hard upon the northern 
parts of New Holland, would get the upper hand, as 
has been the case in the Pacific after the dissolution 
of its continent into those innumerable islands now 
called Polynesian. Plants with* dry leathery leaves 
would be superseded by those having a more luxu- 
riant but weedy look ; for that I take to be the prin- 
cipal physiognomic difference between the floras of 
extratropical Australia and tropical Asia. It must be 
evident that the inquiry Unger has set on foot about 
the former continental connection of Europe and 
Australia, as proved by fossils, cannot stop here. The 
abundance of the most typical forms of Australian 
mammals — the marsupials (opossum and kangaroo) — 
in tertiary European deposits, will doubtless tempt 
some comprehensive mind to treat the subject from a 
zoological point of view. It is most important to as- 
certain whether the present fauna of Australia was al- 
ways associated with the present flora. I do not know 
of any reason why it should not ; but a closer exami- 
nation of all the facts may possibly point to a different 
conclusion. It will probably turn out that in the 
Australian native population we behold the oldest as 
well as the lowest race of men — a race in many in- 


stances without any religion whatever, and incapable 
of mastering any religious teaching, — a race unfitted 
for civilization, and so near the brute creation that it 
might be appropriately classed with it, if it were not 
for its power of language and the only ingenious thing 
in its possession — the boomerang. The reasons why 
New Holland could not make any great strides in ci- 
vilization, conceding even that the natives as a race 
were capable of it, are easily found in the nature of 
the country. It wants moisture and nutritious plants 
for man and beast. Extensive tracts of lands are re- 
quired to feed even a flock of sheep ; wild animals are 
scarce ; and whilst every other part of the globe has 
added edible plants to our table, we have not received 
a single addition from New Holland; indeed, Euro- 
peans who should have to rely for their food upon what 
Australian vegetation can supply, would share the me- 
lancholy fate of Burke and Wills when they tried to 
eke out their existence by eating the wretched nardoo- 
fruits of Australian swamps. There could be no flock- 
ing together of men as long as these conditions were 
not remedied, no permanent interest in property, and 
no improvement. All was hopeless stagnation. But 
if, under these unfavourable conditions, man has ex- 
isted in Australia, at least as far as we historically 
know, for several centuries, we may conclude that he 
could exist in Europe, even during the Eocene period, 
when the same, or a closely similar climate, vegetation, 
and perhaps fauna, prevailed there. We may also be 
sure that, with such surroundings, whatever his race 
may have been, he could not have arrived at a much 


higher degree of civilization than the miserable abori- 
gines who are now disappearing in Australia. 

Bearing in mind that, at one period of the earth's 
history, there flourished in Europe a vegetation very 
similar, not to say identical, to that still beheld in Aus- 
tralia, but that the whole of it has been swept away, to 
make room for other vegetable forms, leaving no trace 
behind except what is recorded in the great stone- 
book of nature, — New Holland is highly instructive. 
It is a faithful picture of what the aspect of our flora 
must have been ages ago ; and on paying a visit to 
Australia we are, as it were, transporting ourselves 
back to ante-historical periods. The effect which 
such an inspection produces on the mind is very sin- 
gular. It kindles in us (and I speak from personal 
experience) feelings of curiosity, but no sympathy. 
We delight in bright green foliage, sweet-smelling 
flowers, and fruits with some kind of taste in them. 
But we have here none of all these. The leaves are of 
a dull, often brownish, green, and without any lustre, 
the flowers are scentless, and the fruits, without any 
exception, are tasteless and insipid. Is the whole of 
this vegetation, and the animals depending upon it for 
support, to disappear before the continent becomes a 
fit abode for the white man ? 

Captain Pirn found that I had originated the idea 
of forming a settlement in the vicinity of the Chon- 
tales and Javali properties. In this plan he cordially 
concurred, and in April, 1867, he succeeded in ob- 
taining a decree or authorization from the Govern- 
ment of Nicaragua for founding a town, which he 


named Guzmanville, after his Excellency the Presi- 
dent. A town is greatly needed close to the mines ; 
in the first place, it is very desirable that respectable 
workmen should be encouraged to settle and make 
their homes in the vicinity, whose services might 
then be secured as they are needed ; in the next 
place, there is a necessity for a steady source whence to 
draw supplies, at a cost far less than is now paid for 
the necessaries of life at Libertad. Of provisions there 
is abundance in that town ; and during the greater 
part of the year they are brought to the mines for sale 
in any quantity, but towards the close of the rainy 
season the roads become so heavy that a scarcity often 
occurs, which would be obviated by the close vicinity 
(less than half a mile) of the town of Guzmanville. 

Having, in April, been relieved in my duties by 
Colonel Eichard Maury, son of the celebrated phy- 
sical geographer of the sea, I took my departure for 
England, where I arrived on the 28th of May, 1867, 
and was once more able to resume, amongst other la- 
bours, the publication of my scientific writings re- 
lating to the Government Expedition to the Viti 
Islands, to which I was attached. 

I must now bid the reader good-bye, to leave some 
space for my friend Captain Bedford Pim. In writ- 
ing the foregoing chapters, I have in some measure 
taken the wind out of his sails by freely using his 
notes ; but he is very fond of inviting me "to take a 
leaf out of his book," and he must therefore feel ra- 
ther pleased than otherwise that, acting upon his invi- 
tation, I have taken not a leaf only, but several pages. 





"Well, gentlemen,' ' said I, addressing the officers of 
H.M.S. Gorgon, " I have received our sailing orders ; 
and where do yon think we are destined to be stationed 
for some time ?" 

"Barbadoes," said one; "Havana," another; while 
a third with a deep sigh, and in a faltering tone sug- 
gested " Halifax ;" where he had not long before en- 
joyed the society of a lovely Bluenose muffin,* and 
left his heart behind him. 

* " Muffin " is a term about as inexplicable as the " Chops and 
Tomato Sauce" of Sergeant Buzfuz. It is indigenous to the colonial 
society of the " Dominion," and is used to designate a young lady 
possessing a Platonic sweetheart who has tacitly sworn fealty at the 
beginning of the winter season, and who is always in attendance, 
whether driving out, sledging, or dancing at parties and balls. Colonial 
society does not look upon these marked and particular attentions with 
the mother country's notions on the subject, and the gentleman is not 
subjected to a demand in respect to his intentions : in fact, this sort of 
engagement, which generally ends with the winter, is a sort of proba- 
tionary course, a glimpse of paradise as it were, but not necessarily 
leading to the heaven of marriage. 



" Whatever place it be," said one of the lieutenants, 
seeing me shake my head, "it is good news that we 
arc so soon to leave Jamaica ; for what with the sti- 
fling heat at Port Boyal during this time of the year, 
and the overbearing insolence of the negroes, almost 
any place would be a change for the better.'' 

"We are going to a land, gentlemen, not precisely 
flowing with milk and honey, but famed in story, the 
scene of many daring exploits ; the very country 
which Columbus pointed out to Ferdinand and Isa- 
bella as the Ophir of Scripture ; and whence, let me 
tell you, more than ten times the amount of treasure ever 
possessed by David and Solomon has already been ob- 
tained. In short, we are to be stationed on the Spa- 
nish Main; and you may now discard 'Tom Cringle's 
Log ' and Captain Marry at' s thrilling descriptions, and 
take to the book of the Hakluyt Society, the ■ His- 
tory of the Pirate Morgan,' c Wafer's Darien,' the 
story of that great man Patterson, besides other books 
of a like sort which I shall have pleasure in lending 

During the above conversation, I could not help no- 
ticing a certain lengthening of the face on the part of 
my listeners, and the countenance of the Bluenose 
sympathizer was bluer than that of any one else. But 
the climax was reached when I announced that the 
part of the Spanish Main to which I was especially 
bound was " the Mosquito Coast," currently reported 
in the service to be the u last place " on the West In- 
dian station. Even the lieutenant who had such a low 
opinion about Jamaica, thought it might be preferable 
to remain at Port Eoyal a little longer. 

Chap. XIII.— B. P.] KINGSTON. 211 

Leave-taking and the hundred and one preparations 
for departure fully occupied the short time allowed 
before sailing. The principal part of the work pour 
prendre conge and shopping is done at Kingston, for 
Port Eoyal is simply the dockyard of Jamaica; but 
boats and canoes are often passing backwards and 
forwards between the two places, which are scarcely 
five miles apart, so that communication between them 
is not a very difficult matter. It requires some skill, 
however, to pilot your boat through the narrow and 
shallow channels winding between the mangroves 
which fringe the famous Palisades for some distance ; 
but once clear, the slashing trade- wind soon "rips" 
you over to the commercial capital, where you land 
with a very uncomfortable damp feeling, caused by 
the saline particles with which the trade-wind is 

Kingston is bordered on the sea, or rather lagoon 
side, by rickety tumbledown piers and landing-places, 
just like Mr. Quilp's wharf. The town is divided into 
narrow streets, dusty enough in the dry season, and 
sufficiently muddy for sea-boots in the wet : there is 
no regular pavement, and if a pedestrian were eccen- 
tric enough to keep the so-called side walk, he would 
frequently find himself in a hole, now picking his way 
over broken stones, and then mounting over hillocks 
of brickwork, almost in ruins, which jut out from the 
sides of the houses like small pyramids with flattened 
tops, and steps on each side. So shin-breaking are 
these heaps that even the Egyptian cry of ' Backsheesh. ' 
would be welcomed, if accompanied by the ready hand 

p 2 


to lift you over them. In fact, the houses and their 
approaches have been built very much after the taste 
and fancy of their respective owners ; and looking up 
some of the streets you are forcibly reminded of an 
awkward squad out for drill, marching on top of one 

The tout ensemble would be rather pleasing were 
it not for the ruinous condition of the houses and 
door-steps, side walks, and even roadway itself ; 
all of which are going from bad to worse, owing to 
the large accession of drones whom Mr. John Bull, in 
a moment of unsuspecting good-nature, has made to 
his family. Our new brothers as by law established 
lay claim to enjoy all the sweets in the family posses- 
sion, but they leave the elder children to do all the 
work, and decline to stir the tips of their fingers in 
furtherance of the general welfare ; so that the neat- 
ness and order which ruled before they were dragged 
into the family are now nowhere to be found. 

It is hardly possible to give a more striking in- 
stance of the innate sloth of the negro than the coal- 
ing of the royal mail steamers in Kingston harbour. 
This work, which requires a large amount of physical 
endurance, and is about the dirtiest and most dis- 
agreeable anywhere, but more especially in the Tro- 
pics, is performed entirely by women, who carry the 
coal in baskets on their heads; the payment is one 
cent for each basketful, and a dollar is commonly 
earned at a coaling, sometimes more. This will give 
some idea of the powers of endurance of negro ladies. 
The women each have their number on a tin label, 

Chap. XIII. - B. P.] COALING A STEAMER. 213 

tied in front, and as they pass over the plank which con- 
nects the steamer with the wharf, they half tnrn to- 
wards a tally-man, who keeps account of how many 
baskets are carried on board by dropping a pea, as each 
passes, into a perforated tin box, with numbers painted 
oyer the holes to correspond with that given to each 
woman on commencing work. The scene is, indeed, an 
extraordinary one ; the ladies moving backwards and 
forwards between the coal-heap and the ship's bunkers 
at a slow jog-trot, not only chaffing each other but 
every looker-on and passer-by, and singing songs, not 
coarse but positively ribald. The scene is still more 
weird-like when the coaling is carried on by night : the 
dusky figures, with begrimed dresses once the much- 
admired property of some fashionable lady, flitting 
to and fro by the light of lanterns and torches. The 
white agents are compelled to tolerate the custom 
under penalty of not getting the steamer coaled at any 
price, for the men have forgotten how to work. 

But to return to our leave-taking and shopping. 
We wandered about under white umbrellas, in twos 
and threes, saying good-bye to our friends, and making 
purchases ; the impression being that none of the ne- 
cessaries of life could be obtained in the out-of-the- 
way part of the world to which we were going. By 
far the hardest part of the work was leave-taking, 
for nowhere is such unbounded hospitality practised 
as amongst the planters and merchants of Jamaica. 
Their doors are always open ; and although their palmy 
days have fled for ever, and no more Madeira is to be 
found in their cellars, yet there is a little rum left, 


It is a thirsty country, and there is plenty to drink, 
they say ; so in you must come and refresh ; and pretty 
hard work it is to get out again, as many a man can 

testify. There are G and P , for example, 

whose genial hospitality cannot be beaten anywhere. 

Poor G ! I nearly set fire to his house in return 

for his kindness to me. His children, and amongst 
them I include the children of the blacks living on 
his estate (for he was a father to them all), were 
eager for a display of fireworks. My contribution 
was a quantity of rockets ; by some accident one of 
them set fire to the dry undergrowth close to the 
house, and this burnt with such fury that the united 
exertions of all hands were unable to stop it ; and had 
not a favourable wind sprung up, wafting the flames 
in a direction where they could do but little damage, 

not a vestige of G 's mansion and outhouses 

would have been saved. The fire, which burnt for 
hours, reminded me not a little of a prairie conflagra- 
tion. Poor G , who was custos of the parish, be- 
loved by all who knew him, and as large-hearted a 
man as ever breathed, escaped, as we sailors say, "by 
the skin of his teeth," from the massacre at Morant 
Courthouse, but not without receiving a desperate 

Well, good-bye, my friends, one and all ; your 
hearts are as warm as your climate, and that is saying 
a good deal ; may prosperity attend you wherever you 
go ; but take my advice — don't stop in Jamaica. The 
cloud hanging over you is becoming blacker and 
blacker, and you had better take shelter before the 


storm bursts. You have nothing to look for from 
home, as you still fondly call the old country. Mr. 
Stiggins is in the ascendant, and we have a lot of 
journeymen tailors persisting in putting a new patch 
on an old garment. Once more, good-bye. 

The leave-taking and shopping completed, not for- 
getting the purchase of such articles as cheap calico, 
fish-hooks, red shirts, knives, naming pocket-hand- 
kerchiefs, etc., for the special benefit of the Mosquito 
Indians, it became high time to think of returning to 
Port Eoyal. But, before regaining the ship, I was 
destined to have a little practical teaching as to my 
black brother-in-law's nature. 

The paymaster and myself were walking down the 
principal street on our way to the boat, when my 
companion drew attention to a negro beating a dog 
— not beating it as a cruel English boy would — 
but belabouring the poor animal with a large and 
heavy stick, until its hind-legs were absolutely flat- 
tened out. It was brutal cruelty of the worst type, 
and I was not at all surprised when the Paymaster, 
who was very fond of and kind to animals, called out 
loudly across the street, " You Sir, what do you mean 
by ill-treating that dog ? You ought to be ashamed 
of yourself. Leave it alone immediately." The negro, 
however, was not disposed to brook being spoken to, 
for he instantly ran over to the side we were on, and 
exclaimed, in a threatening attitude, " What for you 
speak to me? I man like you. I'se good as you;' 7 
besides a string of by no means complimentary sen- 
tences, uttered in rapid succession, and in a tone and 


manner peculiarly annoying, especially as we were 
both in uniform, and a crowd of blacks rapidly as- 
sembled. Encouraged by the others, he now tried, 
by pushing against us, and violently gesticulating, to 
provoke a blow, and enable him to lodge a complaint 
before a magistrate, with the almost certain knowledge 
of what our fate would have been. However, both 
of us kept our temper, and steadily moving on, 
sought shelter in a friendly store, the owner of which 
lost no time in putting closed doors between us and 
the now numerous street mob. Passing through the 
back-door, we made the best of our way to the boat, 
the friendly store-keeper assuring us that he would find 
means to appease the blacks directly we were fairly 
off, whereas by staying worse might come of it both 
to him and to us. I suppose discretion is really the 
better part of valour ; but our hurried departure on 
this occasion spoilt an excellent lunch at the " Hall " 
kept by the sister of that old friend of both Services, 
Mrs. Seacole, where we should probably have been 
regaled with the luxuries of Jamaica, including ring- 
tailed pigeon, mountain mullet, land crab, and other 

Eeturning to Port Royal, I found the following in- 
vitation for " de captain and de hofficers," as a sort of 
farewell offering : — 

"New Street, Port Royal. 
" Miss Josephine Johnson presents her compliments 
to the Captain of the ' Gorgon,' and hopes to have the 
pleasure of his company at a " Dignity" on Monday 
evening, at 8.30." 


To understand the full import of this note I must 
add a few words about the society of Port Eoyal. 
There are officers in blue coats whose home is on the 
water, and officers in red coats who live in the bar- 
racks, and an amphibious species of officers who live 
in the dockyard and hospital : these, with a black coat 
or two, make up the male portion of Port Eoyal society. 
As regards the other and softer sex, a white lady is a 
rare sight indeed ; so that the petticoats are owned, for 
the most part, by parties engaged in the business of 
getting up fine linen ; the tints of whose complexions 
are varied indeed ; — 

" Some are yallar, 
Some are blacker, 
Some the colour of a chaw of tobaccer.' 5 

Miss Josephine Johnson has raised herself by her 
talents to the proud position of head of the washer- 
women — fraternity I was going to say, — sisterhood I 
mean. She is a coloured woman, by no means ill-look- 
ing; but has a formidable rival in one very much 
blacker than herself, who goes by the nickname of 
" the Commodore's mother-in-law/' and who solicited 
the getting-up of my linen with rather an overbearing 
air, — as I thought, in consequence of this dread rela- 
tionship. I am bound, however, to confess that I was 
faithful to the fairer Josephine ; and hence, no doubt, 
the present invitation. 

Well, after dinner a number of us, " gotten up," as 
a Yankee would say, in the handiwork of our hostess — 
lily-white trousers, waistcoats, and jackets, dazzling 
white from head to foot — wended our way to the 


"Dignity," where all the world had assembled for the 
occasion, and a goodly company was already hard at 
work, dancing with a vigour more suitable to the tem- 
perature of the North Pole than that of a condition 
of parboiling, our chronic state at Port Boyal. The 
music was really good, — brought over, as our hostess 
informed us, regardless of expense from Kingston; 
and as for the supper arrangements, they were 
unique, yet simple in the extreme, and therefore 
worthy of imitation. Josephine had invited compe- 
tition amongst the itinerant street -vendors of sweets, 
cakes, fruits, and drinks ; and those commercial in- 
truders walked round the room, offering their pro- 
perty for sale, and rigorously exacting payment in 
the first place. 

Before we entered, Miss Josephine stated, in a 
wheedling tone, that her " Dignity " would surpass 
anything of the sort ever before attempted at Port 
Eoyal, and that it was open to the " brave captain and 
officers" to contribute a few "bits" towards defray- 
ing the expenses, which would be enormous. The 
captain and officers did contribute a good many bits, 
being quite unable to withstand the lady's entreaties. 
Entering a large and neatly decorated room, duly an- 
nounced and ushered in with great pride by Miss Jose- 
phine (who peremptorily stopped her guests in the 
middle of a dance to introduce her distinguished 
friends), we found a goodly bevy of women, — I beg your 
pardon, fair damsels, ladies I mean, — dressed in the 
very extreme of fashion, with crinolines of most amaz- 
ing dimensions ; while each and every one seemed 

Chap. XIII.— B. P.] A " DIGNITY " AT PORT PvOYAL. 219 

much impressed with the situation, and brimfull of 
self-complacency ; but it requires the pen of a Dickens 
to do full justice to the scene. 

The heat was stifling ; and the aroma — well, it cer- 
tainly had not the fragrance of the desert air, loaded 
as it was with bouquet aV Afrique. I thought seriouly 
of retreating, however one retreat in a day is disgrace 
enough ; so there was no help for it, but to see if our 
sisters of Port Eoyal were better conducted than our 
brothers of Kingston. The native atmosphere was 
wafted about in whiifs sufficiently strong to do away 
with any chance of fainting. Nevertheless, I found 
myself dancing. It came about in this wise : Miss 
Josephine sailed up to me, and, by dint of coaxing and 
entreaty, persuaded me to accompany her across the 
room to a bright mulatto from Hayti, to whom I was 
formally introduced in the most approved fashion, and 
whom I led out for a waltz with as much decorum as 
I could command. She really danced well, and seemed 
to enjoy herself immensely, especially when I stopped 
a perambulating supper-tray and invited her to par- 
take of whatever she liked. However, the inexorable 
Josephine came up and told my partner to sit down 
like a lady, and give some one else a chance of the 

Fairly in Miss Josephine's clutches, I had to do as 
she bade me, and ask another lady to dance — this time 
a Creole of Jamaica, a countrywoman of mine, as Jose- 
phine proudly remarked. The young lady, however, 
did not respond to my invitation with the alacrity of 
the Yankee, who jumped up like lightning, and 


guessed " slie just would, as she had sot and sot till 
she'd nigh tuk root.'' This lady replied with great 
dignity that she had not made up her mind. I con- 
fess myself considerably startled at this apparition 
of a haughty washerwoman ; but the lady mistaking, 
no doubt, the emotion which I could not but show on 
my countenance for a softer feeling, relented, and I 
was permitted to encircle her taper waist and join the 
giddy throng. Some feeling of resentment, however, 
seemed to linger in her mind ; for resting a while, 
and venturing to make some polite remark, I received 
snubbing number two, in the following words : "I 
come here to dance, Sar ; I no come to tark." 

This was enough for me ; and with a practical know- 
ledge of a real live Jamaica " Dignity," I sallied out 
into the open air, and wended my way on board, fully 
convinced that I should be proof against sea-sickness 
for some time to come, and that, however easy it might 
be to turn my heart, it would be impossible to turn 
my stomach. 

Good-bye, Jamaica ! You are indeed a lovely is- 
land, possessing a fertile soil, splendid scenery, and 
a climate either tropical or temperate, according 
to taste : but you are under a curse. The minds of 
your leading men are lying fallow, and fast stagnat- 
ing, caused by the undeserved ruin brought upon 
them. Your body corporate is rotten to the core, 
whilst your thews and sinews, the negroes, are worse 
than useless : the men ignorant, brutal, and slothful ; 
the women degraded to an extent unequalled in any 
part of the world, except in the neighbouring island 


of Hayti, which has been a little longer under the 
control of niggerdom than yourself. I fear it is too 
late to save you. Nothing but wiping out the existing 
landmarks and commencing de novo will avert from 
you the fate of Hayti. I have no wish to see "the 
peculiar domestic institution " revived, but I feel sure 
that you must go from bad to worse, unless some 
means be taken to make your stalwart, well-fed, tur- 
bulent negro population do their duty in that state 
of life in which it has pleased Almighty God to place 

"Let go the buoy-rope, back turn; is the buoy 
clear?" — "Yes, Sir." — "Go ahead, full speed — 
hurrah !" We are fairly off, steaming close round the 
long sandy point upon the westernmost extremity of 
which Port Royal is built, and opening out to view 
that long and narrow sandbar, so well-known as the 
Palisades, — the last resting-place of many a gallant 
fellow, whose bones have been picked clean by the 
turkey-buzzard and land-crab, assisted by that most 
disgusting of animals, the hog of the Indies. I give 
him a distinctive appellation, not that he is entitled 
to rank as a separate species from that of his progeni- 
tors in Europe or elsewhere, but, because either from 
change of climate, food, or some other cause, no more 
offensive specimen of his family is to be seen anywhere 
else, — lean to such a degree that the back arches like 
a bow, with spindle-shanks, mangy tail, scaly skin, 
debilitated bristles, few and far between, with a long- 
pointed head and snout, hungry-looking jaws, and 


eyes of ghoul-like portent. Such is tlio pig familiar 
to the eye all over the "West Indies and the Spanish 
Main. The property of the negro on the islands, and 
the Spanish Creole on the main, the wretched animal 
has no friendly assistance either in filling its stomach 
or improving its appearance, and has to derive its 
principal sustenance from the burial-grounds, and 
pass its spare time in picking up the refuse thrown on 
the seashore. The men only notice him at the time 
of his dismissal from the world, and the women when 
converting his horrid flesh into sausages, which, for 
some inexplicable reason, are esteemed, when well- 
seasoned with garlic, as great delicacies. There is 
really no accounting for tastes, but I for one never 
think of touching pork in a hot country, and would 
strongly advise all travellers there to follow my ex- 

We are glad to be off, no doubt ; sailors always 
were and always will be a restless race, or, indeed, 
they would not be sailors, but, nevertheless, no one 
could part from beautiful Jamaica without a lingering 
feeling of regret. 

"With such physical advantages as the " Land of 
Streams "* enjoys, what might not be accomplished 
there, were it not for the blight which has hung over 
its political fortunes ever since that fatal Friday, the 
4th of March, 1494, when it was discovered ! In the 
first place, the Spanish conquerors never rested until 
they had utterly exterminated the natives, for we find 

* The meaning of Jamaica in the aboriginal dialect was " the land of 


that on the 3rd of May, 1665, when it was captured 
by Admiral Penn and General Yenables, — just one 
hundred and seventy-one years after its discovery, — 
not a trace of the aboriginal races could be found ; 
and instead of a thickly-populated country, only fifteen 
hundred Europeans, and about an equal number of 
negroes and mulattoes, were living on the island. 
The war of races is no longer between Indian and 
Spaniard, it is now white versus black, and the day is 
not far distant when this issue will be tried as dis- 
tinctly as that of Spaniard and Indian. 

Looking landward from the vessel, which long 
since had run out of gunshot of the antediluvian 
fortifications commanding the entrance to this great 
naval station, — " Heaven save the mark !" — the view 
is most charming. On the right, to the eastward, 
the shore stretches away past the Yallahs towards 
Morant Point, covered with verdure and dotted here 
and there with picturesque plantations, the Blue 
Mountain Eange rises towering over all to a height 
of some 7000 feet, with the white houses of New- 
castle glistening in the sun and resting as it were 
on its western shoulder ; — right astern, and in close 
proximity to the harbour, the little fairy islets, 
covered by picturesque tropical vegetation and crowned 
with the graceful cocoa-nut-tree, dot the surface of 
a sea bright, beautifully blue, and so clear that the 
bottom can be easily seen at a depth of eight fa- 
thoms ; — to the left, the westward, the broken outline 
of the island loses itself in the distance, while over- 
head is a brilliant sky, with straggling fleecy clouds 


flitting with railway-speed across it, driven before the 
strong N.E. trade-wind, which blew with almost the 
strength of a " norther " in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Little by little this enchanting panorama becomes 
dimmer and dimmer, and, as night approaches, only 
the faintest outline, known to seamen as the "loom 
of land," remains visible. So for the present we lose 
sight of Jamaica, — the good ship rushing into the dark- 
ness and bowling along before a trade-wind, suffi- 
ciently strong, indeed, to raise quite a heavy sea, and 
to give us all a good taste of the rolling qualities of the 
dear old craft ; built on a plan which has now given 
place to others scarcely less absurd. 






Polling along at the rate of ten knots, an hour, and 
driving up the water in a huge wave before her 
broad bows, the old ship steadily approached her 
destination, Greytown, about a thousand miles from 
Port Eoyal. 

During the first twenty-four hours the Pedro 
shoals were passed; next day Cape Gracias a Dios, 
the north-eastern extremity or apex of an irregular 
triangle, comprising the Mosquito Coast. At this 
Cape, in 1782, there existed a good harbour, in which 
Commodore Parry anchored his squadron, consisting 
of a fifty-gun ship and some heavy frigates ; but it is 
now merely a shallow lagoon, with barely sufficient 
depth of water at the entrance to admit the smallest 
coasters; indeed, the "silt" from the river Wanks 
has so encroached on the sea that timber-ships coming 
for mahogany have now to lie a long distance off shore 


The whole coast-line from here to Monkey Point is 
fringed with shoals, rocks, and cays, and it is neces- 
sary to give these awkward customers a wide berth ; 
the irregularity of the currents, so fruitful a source of 
danger all over the "West Indies, rendering great vigi- 
lance necessary at all times, but especially when in 
soundings ; indeed, in this part of the world it is ab- 
solutely necessary to have your eyes " skinned " at 
all times. 

On the third day we passed Old Providence and 
St. Andrew's, two beautiful and fertile islands, capable 
of producing a large amount of cotton and sugar ; the 
former island attains a height of nearly 700 feet, and 
is of considerable size ; the latter is smaller and lower, 
its highest peak being only 340 feet, its area about 
4500 acres. Of Koncador and the Corn Islands I 
shall say nothing now, as, in common with Old Pro- 
vidence and St. Andrew's, it will be necessary to refer 
to them more fully hereafter. All the places I have 
mentioned were left well on the starboard-hand, and 
we had already dipped well into the fifth day when the 
old ' Gorgon ' arrived in close proximity to Greytown. 
It was raining in torrents, or rather buckets' full, — a 
sort of young deluge, which must be felt to be under- 
stood ; the atmosphere was loaded with moisture, and 
so thick that it was difficult to see more than a 
quarter of a mile around. Under such circumstances, 
it was necessary to approach the land with extreme 
caution, but, by groping along, feeling our way with 
the lead very carefully, the anchorage was at last 
safely reached, and the ship anchored in Greytown 


Koadstead, between a fine American frigate and a 
corvette, and close to the English sloop of war which 
■ I had been sent to relieve. 

A slight cessation in the delnge disclosed to view 
the outlines of the place with which we were destined 
to become very familiar. The ship was riding in 
what sailors call the bight of the bay, — in other words 
near its centre ; a dead lee shore, with the trade-wind 
blowing right home and bringing with it a sea which 
set all the vessels to work, rolling according to their 
lights ; some with vigour and violence like the ' Gorgon,' 
others in a very stately and steady manner, like the 
U.S. fifty-gun frigate ' Sabine.' 

On the extreme left was the point erroneously 
named on the charts Punta Arenas ; it was as low as 
it well could be, and covered with mangrove-bushes, 
which grew and flourished close down to the sea, — 
in point of fact looked as if they grew out of the sea. 
The mirage made the point appear as if it were bob- 
bing up and down in the queer dazzling light, caused by 
the struggles of the sun to peep through the damp at- 
mosphere. This singular appearance is very common 
during the rainy season in the West Indies. Further 
to the right, and south of us, running east and west, 
was the long sand- spit of the real Punta Arenas, nearly 
a mile in length and quite bare of vegetation, with 
the exception of two separate patches of shrubs just 
springing up. On the other side of this spit, which 
in fact forms the seaward face of the harbour (now, 
alas, only a lagoon), the city of Grey town is dimly 
discernible through the mist ; we can just make out 



the houses, straggling along the inner beach on the 
mainland, backed by a dense tropical forest ; from 
here the land continues low and thickly covered with 
trees, trending round by west, then northward toward 
Monkey Point. Over all, the heavy rain-clouds, edged 
with black, flitted past, putting the place in mourn- 
ing, so to speak, and ever and anon shutting out the 
monotonous, not to say gloomy view landwards, by a 
copious discharge. 

The state of the weather, the cheerless aspect of the 
shore, as viewed in the occasional glimpses vouch- 
safed to us, and the heavy rolling of the poor old ship, 
did not tend to raise the spirits of any of us ; more 
than one, I suspect, wished the ' Gorgon ' back at Ja- 
maica; and I dare say my young friend thought of his 
"muffin," and wished himself even farther from Grey- 
town than the rest of his shipmates. And this feeling 
was strengthened by the stories we heard from the 
officers and men of the ship we had come to relieve ; 
altogether, therefore, the melancholy forebodings, on 
learning that the destination of the ship was Greytown, 
seemed, at first sight, rather more than realized. 

Uninteresting, not to say gloomy, as the shore ap- 
peared from the ship, still it was the shore, and as 
soon as the usual naval courtesies had been inter- 
changed, every one was anxious to make a closer ac- 
quaintance with it. 

I landed with Captain Pakenham, who was in capi- 
tal spirits at the arrival of his relief, heightened by 
the prospect of a speedy departure from a locality 
which he did not profess to admire, — poor fellow ! he 

Chap. XIV.— B. P.] A GLOOMY LOOK-OUT. 229 

had had a long spell of it at Grey town, and the mo- 
notony probably tinted his views and those of the 
officers of H.M.S. Kacer, under his command. 

We soon fonnd out that it rained " thirteen months 
in the year;" that crossing the bar was always hazar- 
dous, not to say frequently impossible ; that to land 
was to run the risk of being extensively bled by 
mosquitoes and sand-flies, while to remain on board 
was simply to ensure being overrun by cockroaches 
engendered in " their thousands " by the nature of the 
climate ; that no society or amusement of any sort 
existed on shore ; and as to walking, riding, driving, 
or boating, such ideas had better be given up at once. 
This information, and a great deal more of a like 
cheerful description was soon imparted ; but, strange 
to say, it so happened that we were favoured in the 
weather when starting for the shore, and passed the 
bar without any difficulty. 

While crossing I could not help observing the 
extraordinary number of sharks in the surf, and re- 
flecting what short work would be made of any unfor- 
tunate boat's crew capsized in the midst of them. At 
the entrance to what was once a splendid harbour, we 
disturbed several alligators, which scuttled into the 
brackish water on our approach. I wish the sand- 
flies had followed so good an example, but they " smelt 
the blood of an Englishman," and availed themselves 
of the opportunity very briskly. 

We first, as in duty bound, called upon our con- 
sul. Entering a neat American timber-built house of 
one story, with a picturesque thatched roof instead 


of the shingle one, characteristic of this very useful 
" Yankee notion," we were received by the English 
consul, Doctor Green, as he is familiarly styled by 
the residents. I found before me a small, spare man, 
looking as if all colour had been washed out of him 
by the " thirteen months " of rain alluded to above, 
at which latter notion, by the bye, he was inclined 
to be rather indignant, and protested against it on the 
ground that he ought to know best, after so many 
years spent on the Mosquito coast, where the sea- 
sons, wet or dry, were well marked, especially further 
north, as at Corn Island and Pearl Cay, and where 
the people had their full share of as beautiful wea- 
ther as could be met with anywhere in the tropics. 
As to the heat, it was so much tempered by the pre- 
vailing north-east trade-winds that nowhere on the 
Spanish Main, nor indeed for the matter of that in 
any part of the West Indies was the climate more 

Long experience of the Mosquito coast enables me 
to corroborate most fully these facts, and I subse- 
quently found that the pallor of Dr. Green's coun- 
tenance was due probably to constitutional causes 
rather than to the nature of the climate, — for he was 
the only person in Greytown who really looked ill ; 
the population consists of all sorts of nationalities, 
and is, perhaps, as healthy a foreign element as ever 
emigrated from their native lands. I may instance 
Mr. Cottrell, the American consul, and his charming 
wife, also a long time resident in the country ; neither 
of whom have the conventional cadaverous face and 


lantern jaws of the typical Yankee, as drawn by British 
artists, but, on the contrary, are fair and comely to the 
view, and pleasant to shake hands with. 

But to return to Dr. Green and the consulate, we 
soon transacted the official business which had brought 
us there and sallied out to inspect the town. On 
leaving, Dr. Green, in a lugubrious tone, begged me 
to subscribe towards fencing in the burial ground, 
which, it appeared, was sadly in want of repair. Of 
course I complied with this melancholy request, and 
was afterwards told that Dr. Green had long since 
chosen his own particular six feet of ground, which 
he occasionally visited with a view to " jolliness," I 

Greytown is built on a sandbank formed by nature 
in this wise. When the great Lake of Nicaragua 
forced an outlet by the channel now called the river 
San Juan, its waters entered the sea close to the spot 
where Greytown now stands. In process of time 
the detritus commonly called silt, brought down by the 
river from the extensive watershed which it drains, 
accumulated right and left of this mouth in the shape 
of a sandy beach ; that to the left steadily extending 
along and fringing the mainland, stretched right away 
to the northward, and thus formed the western side of 
the harbour. This beach, which is composed of a black 
metallic-looking sand, ends abruptly where the Indian 
river empties itself into the sea, about two miles and 
a half north of Greytown, which thus as it were 
enters a protest against its waters having anything to 
do with so gloomy-looking a deposit, and which is 


certainly a marked feature on that part of the coast 
dominated by the river San Juan. 

To the right the detritus, after a struggle between 
the force of the stream which bears it to the sea and 
the ocean current and waves forced against it by the 
prevailing trade-winds, deposits itself in a semicircular 
form, thus making the eastern and north-eastern side 
of the harbour. This work has been going on for 
ages, and, in process of time, a magnificent harbour 
was completed, the semicircular sand-bar having ex- 
tended itself sufficiently to afford a perfect shelter 
from the winds and waves coming from seaward ; the 
scour or force of the current kept the centre deep and 
the mouth open for a long period of time, but, like 
everything else, the harbour could not remain in statu 
quo. The same law which produced, is now actively 
engaged in destroying its beautiful handiwork, for 
after the formation of the harbour the water of the 
river was naturally kept back, in other words dammed 
up, and by far the greater part therefore compelled to 
seek a more congenial outlet to the sea by way of the 
Colorado, formerly only an insignificant branch of the 
delta of the San Juan. The consequence is, that what 
with the diminution of scour by reason of five-eighths 
of the river seeking another outlet and the increased 
rapidity with which the detritus is deposited (owing 
partly to the present sluggishness of the stream and 
partly to various obstructions, such as wrecks, wash- 
ing away of islands, and injudicious efforts to im- 
prove the navigation, misnamed engineering), the de- 
struction of the port has been hastened ; and all the 



way from the apex of the delta to the mouth of the 
river, there is a series of sand-bars, while in the har- 
bour itself, within my knowledge, the average depth 
of water has diminished one-half. The semicircular 
sand-spit has now effected a permanent junction with 
the mainland, and the only opening or entrance has a 
capricious existence, varying in depth in accordance 
with the moderation of the weather outside and the 
volume of water available for scour. 

In this place I cannot avoid quoting the words of 
my dear and lamented friend, the late Eobert Stephen- 
son, M.P., on the nature of harbours situated at the 
delta of large rivers, because certain American gentle- 
men, with characteristic energy, still continue to waste 
their money by trying to conquer nature in the case of 

Mr. Stephenson, taking part in the discussion on my 
paper, " Eemarks on the Isthmus of Suez, with special 
reference to the proposed Canal," read before the Eoyal 
Geographical Society, April 11th, 1859, said: — "I 
believe it to be nearly true, if not absolutely true, that 
there is no large harbour in the world maintained on 
the delta of a large river. I know the delta of the 
Ehone, the delta of the Po, and the delta of the Danube, 
and I know the delta of the Nile. They are all alike 
incapable of maintaining a harbour of refuge, or even 
a good harbour of entrance ; the harbour would abso- 
lutely be filled up in a few years." 

Mr. Stephenson's remarks apply with equal force to 
the delta of the river San Juan and the harbour of 


The town itself is simply a collection of wooden 
houses, those of the better sort imported from the 
United States, while the habitations of the poorer 
classes are mere huts. They are all raised two or 
three feet from the ground, either upon brick pillars 
placed at regular intervals along each side and down 
the middle, or upon wooden piles distributed under the 
bottom in the same manner ; the ground is a very 
porous sand, covered with a short coarse grass, upon 
which, however, cattle and horses seem to thrive. A 
few feet below the surface, at any part of the flat upon 
which the houses are built, water is found, but the 
site is by no means swampy ; for the great pools every- 
where visible after a heavy fall of rain disappear al- 
most as soon as deposited. There are no made roads 
or side walks, and the traffic is not so great as ever to 
give the grass a downtrodden appearance ; in fact the 
place gives the impression of a number of white- 
washed houses, with red roofs, planted in a grass field. 
There is no church with the exception of the Eoman 
Catholic one, built since the place was given up to 
the Mcaraguans, but of Stores there are any quantity, 
in each of which you may either " liquor-up " or invest 
in india-rubber, sarsaparilla, tortoise-shell, logwood, or 
in short any of the multifarious products of Central 

A few days after our arrival, my customary weekly 
dinner to the officers of the ship took place, and I 
seized the opportunity to glean their various impres- 
sions of the country and people of which they were 
destined to see so much. 

Chap. XIV.— B. P.] ROLLING. 235 

The first lieutenant, poor fellow, looking at the 
matter from a technical point of view, thought it a 
thousand pities that the harbour had so filled up that 
the ship could not enter, and thus deprive him of the 
opportunity of painting and polishing — so dear to the 
hearts of all true first lieutenants ; it was quite clear 
to him that, if the present state of the wind and sea 
was the normal condition of the weather in this road- 
stead, any attempt of the sort would be worse 
than useless, and the ship in a very short space of 
time would be in a deplorable condition. As to the 
sails, they must soon rot from the prevailing damp, 
and the rigging soon chafe thrQugh from the constant 
heavy rolling ; while the boats, following the ex- 
ample of the cutter last night ; — here a tremendous 
roll sent the contents of the orator's plate right into 
the middle of the paymaster's waistcoat, and changed 
his melancholy croak into a burst of laughter, in 
which the paymaster joined as heartily as any one. 
But I must not allow this rude interruption of the ship 
to prevent the due narration of the story of the cutter, 
nor what afterwards befell my own gig. 

The bay or roadstead of Greytown is shaped some- 
what like a boomerang, and the ships lie at anchor as 
close as they can with safety to the harbour's mouth, 
which is situated as nearly as possible in the elbow of 
the bay. Into this funnel, as it were, the north-east 
trade-wind blows with considerable force, bringing 
with it a sea much heavier than would seem to be 
warranted by the force of the wind ; but the secret 
lies in this, that the current from the river is at log- 


gerheads with the wind, and between them a very- 
pretty bobbery is kicked np. This current, while it 
acts as a real safeguard to ships obliged to use the 
anchorage, is very prejudicial to the comfort of the 
crews, for it will not permit the vessels to ride head 
to wind ; hence, with the greater part of their broad- 
sides exposed to the sea, ships at all predisposed that 
way have an opportunity afforded them for rolling, 
such as I will venture to say can scarcely be found in 
any other part of the world. 

The dear old ' Gorgon ' was a first-class roller ; she 
was a Symonite, a production of genius, it is true, 
but sadly lacking in practical utility. In England, 
we are favoured periodically with heaven-born men, 
who, with real or fancied naval proclivities, undertake 
to remodel and build fighting ships for us. Their 
only drawback is, that their ideas of a fighting ship 
are, to say the least of it, somewhat hazy. We are 
now suffering from a severe affliction of this sort: 
I hope the disease will not become chronic. 

Well, the old craft did roll, roll, roll, with a ven- 
geance. About two in the middle watch there was 
a tremendous crash, and running on deck to see what 
was the matter, I found that the cutter, hoisted up 
to the port davits, had literally been dipped under 
water, partly filling the boat and tearing her from 
the fastenings confining her to the ship's side ; it was 
only by the greatest exertions that her wreck was 

While on this subject, I may mention that some 
time afterwards, when lowering my gig (the captain's 


boat is called the gig, and has neither shafts nor a 
horse for its motive power, as a late First Lord of 
the Admiralty is reported to have thought), the falls 
or ropes by which it is hoisted up to the davits 
were carried away, first the foremost one, then the 
after one, when, to the extreme astonishment of every 
body, down she went, head foremost. A few of the 
oars and the mast were picked up, but nothing has 
been seen or heard of the boat from that day to this. 
None of the crew disappeared with her, or suffered any 
worse penalty than a good ducking. 

" It is a long lane which has no turning," and the 
catastrophe to the paymaster's waistcoat drew atten- 
tion to the extreme misconduct of the ' Gorgon,' and 
the probable cause of such behaviour ; this led to my 
sending orders on deck to hoist the boom-mainsail (a 
huge after-sail, she was brig rigged), which happily 
had the desired effect of keeping the ship head to 
wind and sea, thus allowing us to finish our dinner 
in comparative comfort. 

But to return to the first lieutenant. Another great 
cause of complaint on his part was the absence of the 
orthodox bright-looking sand, so essential to the pro- 
per cleansing of the decks, — the process so familiarly 
known as holy-stoning, — the sand, of which by the 
bye there was unfortunately too much, being, as I 
have mentioned before, more like dirt than any other 
substance to which I can compare it. In short, I 
could see at a glance that the impression left on the 
mind of my friend, the first lieutenant, was anything 
but nattering, looking to the resources of Greytown, 


so far as he might want to draw upon them in his 
pursuit of such happiness as a " technical education " 
had taught him to expect from keeping a man-of-war 
in good order. 

"Now, doctor, I am sure, after listening to the 
first lieutenant, you cannot but be as satisfied as 
myself that the sanitary condition of the ship will 
be well looked after ; so just tell me what you think 
of Mosquito and the Mosquitoes, so far as you have 
been able to judge by the short inspection you have 
had. Are we going to be fever-stricken, and a sort 
of floating hospital, as the other ships on this station 
have been ?" 

" No, indeed," replied the doctor. " I hope to have 
a smaller sick-list here than we ever had in the West 
Indies. I have been much struck with the appear- 
ance of the residents ; most of them have been more 
than ten years in the country ; in fact, the English 
consul is the only sickly-looking person in the place. 
Yellow fever is unknown, and if you, Sir, can only 
give the ship's company sufficient employment to keep 
1 the devil out of their minds,' I feel confident the 
• Gorgon' will be as healthy a ship as ever visited the 

" I am told that not even during the time when the 
inhabitants, men, women, and children, were driven to 
the woods, to escape the shot and shell fired into the 
town by the United States' corvette ' Cyane,' was their 
health impaired, although the rainy reason had regu- 
larly set in, and there was no shelter for the suffering 

Chap. XIY.— B. P.] HOMILY. 239 

It was very reassuring to my guests to hear this 
account from our worthy medico. We are not likely, 
it appears, to fall victims to the pestilential climate of 
Greytown, nor to return home emaciated scarecrows, 
like Lord Nelson ; the devil, after all, is not so black 
as painted. I strongly suspect that many a decent 
place has obtained a bad name from travellers whose 
reception or excesses, or natural infirmity of temper, 
have coloured their impressions — formed, after all, from 
a brief survey through a dirty pane of glass. " For my 
part," said I, "I intend to consider Greytown inno- 
cent of the high crimes and misdemeanours laid to 
its charge, until I have proof positive to the contrary. 
I shall wait with some degree of curiosity, when our 
relief comes, to see with what feelings we leave the 
Mosquito coast. Depend on it, there is no place on the 
face of the earth so bad but that you may get some 
good out of it, and do something in the interest of 
improvement and progress. Take the Arctic regions, 
for example ; I am sure no one will deny, dreary 
and inhospitable as they undoubtedly are, that most of 
those men who have served there returned to Eng- 
land, better in every sense for the trials and hardships 
to body and mind which they had to endure while 
searching for Franklin. Of the six years off and on, 
which I passed in that most interesting work, I would 
not forego a single day ; and I feel strongly how much 
I am indebted to that trying service for making a c man 
of me,' as the phrase goes. So now let us try, one and 
all, what good we can' do with Mosquito and the 


This homily, read to my guests, probably went in 
at one ear and out of the other, judging from the un- 
disguised pleasure of every one when, a few days 
afterwards, I announced that I intended to take a short 
cruise up the coast in pursuit of knowledge ; to visit 
the Mosquito king, to find out for myself whether 
facilities were afforded higher up for a landing by those 
troublesome scamps, the filibusters ; and generally to 
get some practical notion of what sort of a place the 
Mosquito Coast was, and what was really going on in 
this famous but singularly little known and less under- 
stood part of the world. 





Previously to sailing we had but little chance of im- 
proving our knowledge of Greytown, its people or its 
harbour ; although I was anxious, at least, to begin the 
survey which I had arranged with the master to make 
as soon as possible ; the trade-wind blew with more 
than ordinary strength, and brought on such an ugly 
sea that communication with the shore by means of our 
boats was necessarily very much restricted ; and no one 
had as yet sufficient confidence in native canoes to trust 
himself in those very ticklish specimens of naval archi- 
tecture. Nevertheless, under skilful guidance, they 
are about the safest means of locomotion, especially in 
broken water ; indeed no weather prevented the punc- 
tual arrival each day of the ship's company's allow- 
ance of fresh beef, brought alongside in as dangerous- 
looking a " dug-out" as could be seen anywhere. I 



ought to explain that these canoes are made out of 
single trees, either cedar or mahogany ; the former is 
preferred for lightness, the latter for durability. I have 
seen some upwards of fifty feet in length, as straight 
as an arrow, and without a knot in the wood. The 
paddles are made of a light mahogany; they have 
very broad blades, are about four feet long, with a 
cross at the handle. The canoes belonging to the 
Creoles are generally fitted with a rudder, but the In- 
dians propel and steer solely with the paddle ; they all, 
however, take pride in having very large sails made of 
cotton, enough to capsize a much larger craft, although 
I never heard of such a catastrophe happening to a 
canoe, in spite of the fact that they systematically 
carry sail, without taking even the precaution of keep- 
ing the sheet in hand, but, on the contrary, secure 
it beyond any chance of coming adrift. It is quite a 
toss up as to whom the palm of superiority, as canoe- 
men, should be given, whether to the aboriginal na- 
tives or the Creoles, they are alike excellent. 

Towards the end of November our cruise to the 
northward commenced ; and I am bound to say that 
the departure of the c Gorgon ' by no means opened the 
way to any enterprising filibusters ; because the entry 
to Greytown, the orthodox approach for those gentry, 
was barred by no less than three American men-of- 
war, namely a frigate and two corvettes ; the ' Sabine,' 
Captain Adams ; the i Jamestown,' Captain Kennedy ; 
and the ' San Luis,' Captain Pooer. These vessels were 
all sailing ships, but it was provoking to reflect that 
although we possessed the advantage of steam power, 

Chap. XV.— B. P.] SAILING ON FRIDAY. 243 

yet the violent rolling qualities of the c Gorgon ' 
placed her at the mercy of either of the above-named 
vessels, which rode at anchor, especially the 6 Sabine,' 
in a very grim and stately manner, and looking quite 
capable of popping a shot into us between wind and 
water, somewhere near the keel, which struggled 
hard to show itself at each roll. As to our returning 
the compliment, that would have been entirely out of 
the question, for during the whole time we were lying 
at anchor at Greytown, it would have been the height 
of imprudence to cast loose the guns, so violent was 
the motion ; it was lucky, therefore, that no " diffi- 
culty " arose, where it would have been so difficult to 
show our teeth. 

It was with no small delight that we exchanged the 
constant heavy rolling, enough to wear out the patience 
of Job, for the easy and pleasant motion of a ship 
under all sail. Even the old sailors' dislike to sailing 
on a Friday was forgotten, in the realization of so plea- 
sant a change, malgre the starting on that ill-omened 
day. The universality of this well-known nautical 
superstition would form a curious and interesting sub- 
ject of investigation. Ancient mariners perpetuate it 
by the oft-told story of the foolhardy shipowner who, 
in a spirit of defiance which could not be sufficiently 
reprobated, commenced building a ship on a Friday, 
named her the ' Friday,' appointed a Captain Friday 
to command her, sent her to sea on a Friday, and 
thus, no doubt, ensured her foundering on a Friday, 
for nothing more was heard of her. Why Friday 
above all other days should have been singled out by 



seamen especially as unfortunate, it is hard to imagine, 
for it is perhaps the most remarkable day of the seven 
in nautical annals : for example, on that day Co- 
lumbus started from Spain on the grandest voyage 
history records, and, what is more, it was on a Friday 
that he brought that wonderful voyage to a successful 
termination by the discovery of a new world. This re- 
minds me that before narrating the occurrences of our 
very pleasant cruise, and visit to Eoyalty at the seat 
of Government, Blewfields, it will not be out of place 
to take a brief retrospective view of the discovery and 
geographical position of the ]V[osquito Coast. 

The Coast of Mosquito was discovered by Columbus 
himself, who arrived off .a group of islands, since 
called the Bay Islands, and landed on the eastern- 
most one, named Guanaja, on the 30th July, 1502. 
From this place he observed the mountains of the 
mainland, distant about fifteen miles, and, sailing 
over, landed on the coast on the 14th August, 1502. 
Columbus went on shore at a point now called Cape 
Honduras, near which a Spanish town named Truxillo 
was afterwards built by Fernando Cortez, and which 
has formed the frontier post on that coast for nearly 
350 years, the limit, in fact, of Spanish encroachment 
to the eastward. The exact boundary of the Mos- 
quito Coast has from that day to this been a subject 
of dispute among writers on this part of the New 
World, but the majority are of opinion that the 
Mosquito Coast comprises all that portion of Central 
America which has never been actually subjected and 
occupied by a de facto government of the conquerors 


or their descendants, and in this view of the case I 
entirely concur. 

After leaving Cape Honduras, Columbus sailed 
along the coast to the eastward for forty days, beating 
against an adverse wind and current. During this time 
he only succeeded in advancing at the rate of rather 
less than five miles per day, and little did he imagine 
when he decided to go to the East instead of to the 
West, against the urgent advice of the natives, how 
near he was to the famous cities of Yucatan, and the 
untold riches of the Empire of Mexico, and how 
rapidly the fair wind and current would have carried 
him there. But he was not the man to lose sight of 
the one great object to which he had devoted his 
life, the finding a strait which should lead direct to 
the East Indies. He preferred to persevere, even at 
the slow rate of five miles a day, against foul wind and 
bad weather, in pursuit of this grand idea, rather than 
turn the bows of his vessels in any other direction, 
however tempting the prospect of wealth and con- 
quest might be. It is useless to speculate upon the 
consequences of this decision, both as regards his 
own future and that of the peoples he would have 
discovered, but probably the wealth which would 
then have been his would have saved him from the 
indignities and cruelty to which he was subjected in 
his declining years, by the perfidy and avarice of his 
adopted countrymen. 

He was unfortunate in arriving during the height 
of the rainy season, but his indomitable spirit over- 
came all difficulties, great though they were. He says 


in his journal that there was an almost incessant tem- 
pest of the heavens, with heavy rains, and such thunder 
and lightning that it seemed as if the end of the 
world was at hand. Those who have had any expe- 
rience of the rainy season in the tropics know full 
well that this description is not exaggerated. 

At last he reached the north-east extremity of the 
Mosquito Coast, where his troubles, at all events as 
regards an adverse wind and current, came to an end, 
for after rounding this point he found the north-east 
trade- wind no longer blowing in his teeth, but now a 
fair wind driving his ships along bravely on their 
course to the southward. It is no wonder that a man 
of his deeply religious frame of mind should have 
commemorated his thankfulness and relief by calling 
the point he had just rounded, with so much diffi- 
culty and danger, Cape u Gracias a Dios," thanks to 
God, a name which it bears to this day. 

Proceeding on his voyage, Columbus sailed along the 
Mosquito Coast, of which, however, he gives but a 
meagre description, probably from the disinclination of 
his people to land in the face of a numerous race of 
natives, both hostile and warlike. This is scarcely to 
be wondered at when it is considered how disheart- 
ened the sailors had become by a continuance of the 
heavy rains and sharp squalls which characterize the cli- 
mate on this coast from June to October. The men no 
doubt suffered great hardships, confined as they were 
in small undecked vessels, affording no protection 
from the weather. Nevertheless, Columbus persevered, 
buoyed up by the hope of taking his ships direct to 


Cathay, or China. He succeeded in passing the nar- 
rowest part of the New "World, where Yasco Nunez 
de Balboa afterwards crossed, — the Isthmus of Darien, 
— in spite of obstacles which have driven back many 
better-found full-decked ships in later times. 

Thus Columbus himself was the discoverer of the 
entire Coast of Mosquito, and which, looking to that 
part alone, never either permanently settled or even 
kept under control by the Spaniards, extends from 
Cape Honduras, in lat. 16° N., long. 86° W., to Chi- 
riqui Lagoon, in lat 9° 1ST., and long. 82° W., a length 
of coast-line amounting to 600 miles. 

Inland the various maps have been nearly as much 
at fault in fixing the boundary in that direction as in 
laying down the extent of the coast-line, but it is 
generally conceded that a line drawn from Cape Hon- 
duras until it meets the range of mountains which 
divide the watershed of the Atlantic and Pacific, and 
continuing right along that range to Chiriqui La- 
goon, is as nearly as possible the correct one, because 
the Spaniards and their descendants have never suc- 
ceeded in making any permanent lodgment on the 
eastern or Atlantic side of this line, the nearest ap- 
proach being the fort called Castillo Yiejo, on the San 
Juan river, and the existence of which, moreover, may 
be quoted as a confirmation of this view, for it was 
the advanced post of the Spaniards coming from the 
coast of the Pacific, and not an outpost pushed inland 
from the Atlantic or Mosquito side. 

So much for the discovery and geographical position 
of -Mosquito. Now let us take a glance at the abori- 


gines of the country by the light of the description of 
them as given by Columbus himself, and the various 
navigators who have followed him. 

Columbus states that the natives of this neighbour- 
hood, and for a considerable distance eastward, had 
higher foreheads than those of the islands. They 
spoke different languages, and varied from each other 
in their decorations. Some were entirely naked, 
and their bodies were marked, by means of fire, 
with the figures of various animals. Some wore 
coverings about the loins, others cotton jerkins with- 
out sleeves ; some only tresses of hair in front. The 
chiefs had caps of white or coloured cotton. When 
arrayed for any festival, they painted their faces black, 
or with stripes of various colours, or with circles round 
the eyes. In one part of the coast the ears were bored 
and hideously extended. On every occasion that the 
strangers approached the shores, Columbus relates that 
the natives assembled in vast numbers, armed with 
bows and arrows, war-clubs, and lances, prepared to 
defend their country, and that they never evinced the 
smallest fear of the Spaniards, — in marked contrast to 
the conduct of the islanders, who submitted to slavery 
without making any resistance worthy of mention. 

Fernando Columbus, the son of the great navigator, 
describes the Mosquito Indians as almost negroes in 
colour, brutish, going naked, in all respects very rude, 
eating human flesh, and devouring their fish raw, as 
(hey happen to catch them. A monkish report is still 
less flattering, and that will complete the earliest 
records we have of a race now very nearly extinct. 


This states that they deserved to be sold as slaves, 
rather than to be allowed to live at liberty, on account 
of their brutish way of living ; that the Indians of 
the mainland were idolaters, pathics, liars, dirty, ugly, 
void of judgment or perception, lovers of novelty, 
fierce, inhuman, and cruel ; that they used poisoned 
darts, so that when a man was wounded by them he 
soon went mad and died ; that they went about naked, 
and were devoid of shame. They wear no beard, the 
report continues, and if a few hairs appear they pull 
them out with certain little pincers ; they eat human 
flesh, and also the flesh of some extremely dirty ani- 
mals, such as spiders, lice, and horrid worms. All 
their delight is in drunkenness ; they observe no faith 
in matrimony, so that it is impossible to make them 
alter their habits. They are devoid of pity towards 
their infirm, and, let them be ever so closely related, 
they abandon them, and to get rid of the sight of 
their sick, they carry them to the woods or the 
mountains, to die like wild animals. Finally, to con- 
clude all in one sentence, it affirmed that no more 
wicked or wretched nation can be found under heaven. 
These accounts are interesting, as being the earliest 
record we have, but it is curious to observe the dif- 
ference of style in the three observers above quoted, 
— a fair indication, I think, of the bent of their re- 
spective minds. Columbus states what he saw in a 
grave, impartial manner ; and although his account 
is meagre, yet the little he tells us can be relied on. 
The costume of the tribes in the interior continues the 
same to this day ; they still sketch those outlines of 


animals on their bodies by means of the actual cautery, 
and paint their faces exactly as he describes it. 

The son Don Fernando's manner of speaking of the 
Mosquito Indians impressed me with the idea that he 
had possibly suffered humiliation or defeat at their 
hands ; the fact that they blacken their faces in war 
was probably the reason he described them as almost 
negroes in colour, for it seems that they never ap- 
proached the Spaniards in a friendly spirit. I could 
not learn from any tradition extant that they ever 
ate their fish raw ; fire was always procurable, and 
the probability is against any such custom, for if 
any one will take the trouble to try he will soon 
discover how very difficult a matter it would be to 
eat raw fish without being choked with the small 
bones. As to the charge of eating human flesh, I can 
only say that not a trace of cannibalism has been ob- 
served by subsequent explorers. I can quite under- 
stand, however, that such a mistake might readily 
have occurred, for I jumped at that very conclusion 
myself on one occasion, when an Indian woman 
brought in for our breakfast, wrapped in a huge 
plantain-leaf, what I verily believed to be a boiled 
baby; it was entire, legs, arms, head, all complete. 
The whiteness of the flesh, however, was reassuring, 
for an instant's reflection reminded me that Indian 
babies are not usually other than dark brown. A 
closer inspection showed the mistake into which I 
had nearly fallen : I was simply destined to breakfast 
off monkey, which, with roasted plantains, a capital 
substitute for bread, and plenty of cacao to wash down 


the solids, I am not ashamed to say was eaten by me 
with very considerable relish. 

Touching the account of the monks, it is scarcely 
worth analysing; the tone of spite throughout it 
would prevent most people from placing any faith in 
such a description. The tirade of abuse commences 
with calling the Indians idolaters; I am sure they 
might have returned the compliment with far greater 
justice. Then they are called ' pathics ;' whatever that 
may mean I confess I do not know, but the word may 
have been used as a clincher, just as O'Connell demo- 
lished the fair lady of Billingsgate by calling her a 
theodolite. At all events, if this description were ap- 
plicable to the natives of that day (and there is no 
tradition to show that it ever was), it would certainly 
be far wide of the mark now. 

Columbus tried hard to establish a settlement on 
this coast, but met with nothing but disaster, and was 
ultimately obliged to abandon his design in despair. 

After his death, others attempted to follow his ex- 
ample, — the most noteworthy of whom was Don Diego 
de Mcuesa, who received from the King of Spain a 
patent as Governor of the country from the Gulf of 
Uraba, or Darien, to Cape Gracias a Dios. 

In November, 1509, Don Diego started from His- 
paniola, and steered direct for the Spanish Main, in- 
tending afterwards to pursue his course to the west- 
ward ; but he had to encounter misfortune after mis- 
fortune, and very soon, from hardships and the arrows 
of the natives, found his force reduced from 780 to 17 
men, with whom he set sail from Darien on the 1st of 


March, 1511, and was never again heard of. Most 
probably his frail bark fonnclered in one of the violent 
northers which visit the coast at that season of the 
year. It was on the Mosquito Coast that Cortez, 
Pizarro, Balboa, and many others, who afterwards so 
distinguished themselves, served their apprenticeship 
as volunteers. 

The orthodox mode of inducing submission to the 
conquerors, and of placing before the natives as forci- 
bly as possible the blessings and advantages of Chris- 
tianity, is strikingly conveyed in the following mani- 
festo, issued by Don Diego Mcuesa and other adven- 
turers of his class. This document is very interesting, 
but the Mosquito Indians, from the very first, resisted 
the blandishments of the invaders, and were not such 
fools as to allow themselves to be sold as slaves, how- 
ever much their chroniclers thought they deserved it, 
however persevering the efforts to subjugate them, and 
however courageous their foe. 

" I, Diego de Nicuesa, servant of the most high and 
powerful Kings of Castile and Leon, the conquerors of 
barbarous nations, their messenger and captain, notify 
to you and declare, in as ample form as I am capable, 
that God our Lord, who is one and eternal, created 
the heaven and the earth, and one man and one wo- 
man, of whom you and we, and all the men who have 
been or shall be in the world, are descended. But as 
it has come to pass through the number of generations 
during more than five thousand years, that they have 
been dispersed into different parts of the world, and 
are divided into various kingdoms and provinces, be- 

Chap. XV.— B. P.J A SPANISH PJOT ACT. 253 

cause one country was not able to contain them, nor 
could they have found in one the means of subsistence 
and preservation ; therefore God our Lord gave the 
charge of all these people to one man, named St. Peter, 
whom he constituted the Lord and head of all the hu- 
man race, that all men, in whatever place they are 
born, or in whatever faith or place they are educated, 
might yield obedience unto him. The whole world 
he hath subjected to his jurisdiction, and commanded 
him to establish his residence in Eome, as the most 
proper place for the government of the world. He 
likewise promised and gave him power to establish 
his authority in every other part of the world, and to 
judge and govern all Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, 
and all other people of whatever sect or faith they 
may be. To him is given the name of Pope, which 
signifies admirable, great father and guardian, because 
he is the father and governor of all men. Those who 
lived in the time of this holy father obeyed and ac- 
knowledged him as their Lord and King, and the Em- 
peror of the Universe. The same has been observed 
with respect to them who, since his time, have been 
chosen to the pontificate. Thus it now continues, and 
will continue to the end of the world. 

" One of these pontiffs, as Lord of the World, hath 
made a grant of these Islands, and of the Tierra Firme* 
of the Ocean Sea, to the Catholic Kings of Castile, 
Don Ferdinand and Doha Isabella, of glorious me- 
mory, and their successors, our Sovereigns, with all 
they contain, as is more fully expressed in certain 
deeds passed upon that occasion, which you may see 


if you desire it. Thus his Majesty is King and Lord 
of these Islands, and of the Continent, in virtue of 
this donation ; and as King and Lord aforesaid, most 
of the islands to which his title hath been notified 
have recognized his Majesty, and now yield obedience 
and subjection to him as their Lord, voluntarily and 
without resistance ; and instantly, as soon as they re- 
ceived information, they obeyed the religious men 
sent by the King to preach to them, and to instruct 
them in our holy faith ; and all these, of their own 
free will, without any recompense or gratuity, became 
Christians, and continue to be so ; and his Majesty 
having received them graciously under his protection, 
has commanded that they should be treated in the 
same manner as his other subjects and vassals. You 
are bound and obliged to act in the same manner. 
Therefore I now entreat and require you to consider 
attentively what I have declared to you : and that 
you may more perfectly comprehend it, that you take 
such time as is reasonable, in order that you may ac- 
knowledge the church as the superior and guide of 
the universe, and likewise the holy father called the 
Pope, in his own right, and his Majesty by his ap- 
pointment, as King and Sovereign Lord of these Is- 
lands, and of the Tierra Firme* ; and that you consent 
that the aforesaid holy fathers shall declare and preach 
to you the doctrines above mentioned. If you do this, 
you act well, and perform that to wdiich you are bound 
and obliged ; and his Majesty, and I in his name, will 
receive you with love and kindness, and will leave 
you, your wives and children, free and exempt from 

<•) r. k 


servitude, and in the enjoyment of all you possess, in 
the same manner as the inhabitants of the islands. 
Besides this, his Majesty will bestow upon you many 
privileges, exemptions, and rewards. But if you will 
not comply, or maliciously delay to obey my injunc- 
tion, then, with the help of God, I will enter your 
country by force ; I will carry on war against you 
with the utmost violence ; I will subject you to the 
yoke of obedience to the Church and King ; I will 
take your wives and children, and will make them 
slaves, and sell or dispose of them according to his 
Majesty's pleasure ; I will seize your goods, and do 
you all the mischief in my power, as rebellious sub- 
jects, who will not acknowledge or submit to their 
lawful Sovereign. And I protest that all the blood- 
shed and calamities which shall follow are to be im- 
puted to you, and not to his Majesty, or to me, or the 
gentlemen who serve under me ; and as I have now 
made this declaration and requisition unto you, I re- 
quire the notary here present to grant me a certificate 
of this, subscribed in proper form." 

This extraordinary document was always gravely 
read whether the assemblage was " large and respect- 
able," or the contrary; on one occasion the following 
reply was made, as related by an eye-witness, the 
Bachelor Enciso, in a geographical work called £ Suma 
de Geographia,' published in Seville (1519) : — 

" Eespondieron me: que en lo que dezia que no 
avia sino un Dios y que este governaba el cielo y tierra, 
y que era sefior de todo que es parecia y que asi debia 
ser ; pero que en lo que dezia que el Papa era seilor de 


todo el universo en lugar de Dios, y que el avia fecho 
merced de aquella tierra al rey de Castilla ; dixeron 
que el Papa debiera estar boracho quando lo hizo, 
pues daba lo que no era suyo, y que el rey que pedia 
y tomava tarn merced dabia ser algun loco, pues pedia 
lo que era de otros," etc.* 

The following is a free translation of the above : — 
They replied to me that as to the assertion that there 
was but one God, the sovereign of heaven and earth, 
it seemed to them good, and that such must be the 
case ; but as to the doctrine that the Pope was Regent 
of the World in place of God, and that he had made a 
grant of their country to the Spanish King ; they ob- 
served that the Pope must have been drunk to give 
away what was not his, and the King must have been 
somewhat mad to ask at his hands what belonged to 

They added that they were lords of those lands and 
needed no other sovereign, and if this King should 
come to take possession, they would cut off his head 
and put it on a pole, that being their mode of dealing 
with their enemies. 

* ' Columbus and his Companions,' by Washington Irving', vol. vii. 
p. 681. 






The voyage to the northward was a source of pleasure 
from its commencement. A very few miles from 
Greytown, the weather began sensibly to improve, so 
that we were able to enjoy a good view of the land, 
instead of straining our eyes to see its mere outline, and 
that only of a neutral tint, sombre indeed. To those 
who have not seen the sun for some time, a mere peep 
is welcome ; but in our case his Majesty came out in 
all his glory, and not only put every one on board in 
the best spirits, but, what was practically of even 
greater importance, speedily dried up our wet decks 
and clothes, which were almost in a chronic state of 
damp and mouldiness. 

It was not long, however, before I found that 
beating to windward on this coast, in a vessel of the 
i Gorgon' class, did not pay; for each tack was like 
Tom Cox's traverse, " there and back again," — cer- 



tainly not to bo wondered at when it is considered 
that wind and current were against us, and that the 
old ship had a heavy pair of paddle-wheels to drag 
through the water in addition. 

On this coast, during the period of the trade-winds, 
from November to May, a large body of water is 
forced round Cape Gracias & Dios, and along the shore 
to the southward, causing a current in that direction 
more or less strong in proportion to the force of the 
wind; so that at this season, unless the trade veers 
well to the eastward or northward, it is a very difficult 
matter for even a Baltimore clipper to get north, and 
therefore it was a hopeless task for the old i Gorgon.' 
However, fortunately, we were not dependent on sails 
alone, and finding it useless to contend against wind 
and current I ordered the steam to be got up. 

From Greytown to Monkey Point, which forms the 
eastern extremity of a commodious anchorage, now 
called Pirn's Bay, the course and distance is north 
about 38 miles. But as we were using steam we 
coasted along the land, which curves gently to the 
N.N'.'W. for about 30 miles, and then turns more 
sharply until it reaches Monkey Point. 

By this means every one on board had the oppor- 
tunity of becoming practically acquainted with the 
appearance of the shore, and the nature of the pilot- 
age, for future use if needed. 

The land near the beach as far as the mouth of the 
river Eama is low, densely covered with trees, and 
fringed with sand, upon which the surf breaks heavily ; 
so much so, indeed, that it is hazardous for even a 

Chap. XVI.— B. P.] ASPECT OF COUNTRY. 259 

canoe to attempt to run the breakers while the trade- 
wind is blowing. With the land-wind, however, there 
is no danger. When we passed, the trade-wind was 
blowing strongly, otherwise I should have anchored 
and had a run on shore, especially as there is shooting 
of all sorts to be had there, from tigers to humming- 

Inland, the surface is broken up into a succession 
of hills and valleys ; one of the former, some ten 
miles from the sea, and about halfway to Pirn's Bay, 
attaining the considerable elevation of 2800 feet. The 
whole country is covered with primeval forest, which 
is all but impenetrable near the shore, but much 
more open inland. The most remarkable landmark 
between Greytown and the Eama river is Eound Hill, 
upwards of 600 feet high, and quite isolated, so that it 
looks like an island instead of part of the mainland, 
and is thus a first-rate beacon for coasters. 

Another remarkable feature of the coast I am trying 
to describe, is the extensive coral reef, or edge of the 
soundings, which, from a breadth of about seven miles 
off Greytown, gradually widens as it stretches away 
to the northward to twenty-eight miles off Pirn's Bay, 
and nearly one hundred miles off Cape Gracias a Dios. 
On its sea edge it is unfathomable, but it gradually 
shallows as the land is approached, so that, off Grey- 
town, a depth of twenty fathoms could not be obtained 
until within three or four miles from the shore, while 
near Pirn's Bay the same soundings would indicate 
nearly three times that distance off shore. 

Off the Eama river, due east about four miles, lies 



tlic first "cay" (the West Indian name for islet), 
which is met with to the northward of Chiriqui 
Lagoon; it is qnite as remarkable as Bound Hill. 
Coming from the north it looks like a conical green 
hill, but from the south it is shaped like a wedge, the 
sharp end seaward. Probably no human foot has ever 
trod its steep sides, as it is so rocky and rugged that 
landing is very difficult. It is called Pajaro Bovo — 
"Booby Bird" — from the number of boobies which 
take up their residence upon it. 

If coasting along from Greytown gave us pleasure, 
we were still more pleased when we reached the 
vicinity of the Eama river and Pirn's Bay. Away to 
the H".W. stretched the broken Cordillera, gradually 
increasing in height as it receded from Monkey Point, 
which, to speak more accurately, is a headland, or 
rather a series of bluffs, jutting into the sea like 
buttresses, forming a very appropriate termination 
to the remarkable chain of mountains extending 
through this section of Central America, dividing its 
watershed. The transverse valley of the Mcaraguan 
lakes, and their outlet, the river San Juan, break the 
continuity of this range, which would otherwise reach 
in an unbroken line through Costa Pica as far as the 
Isthmus of Panama. 

At Greytown, in clear weather, the volcano of Car- 
tago, the king of the Cordillera in Central America, can 
be seen dominating the mountains beneath him from a 
height of 11,000 feet, and sending out volumes of 
smoke ; it is 55 miles from Greytown, due south. The 
summit is cone-shaped, like that of most, if not all, of 

Chap. XVI.— B. P.] PBl'S BAY AND CAYS. 261 

its brethren in this part of the world, and its eastern 
side is very steep. It rises up to the clouds like a 
giant, and, there being no intermediate mountains to 
obscure its true proportions, it appears to stand out by 
itself in all its grandeur and magnitude. 

There are three cays off Monkey Point, and several 
others off the points nearer the Eama, studding the 
transparent sea with little emerald spots. The beaches, 
too, are composed of bright clean sand, — such a contrast 
to the black -looking stuff at Greytown and its vicinity, 
— while in several places we saw clumps of cocoa-nuts, 
giving quite a picturesque appearance to the scene, 
which only needs the presence of man to become an 
earthly paradise. 

Passing all this, the coast-line once more became 
quite low ; a hill, about five hundred feet high, at the 
back of Blewfielcls, being the only elevation worth 
speaking of ; it is called Aberdeen Hill. 

From Monkey Point to the entrance of Blew'fields 
Lagoon is only twenty-three miles ; and, although the 
coast is low and uninteresting, yet it is fringed by 
some fairy -like cays, which disappear in the distance 
only too rapidly as the ship steams quickly past. 
There are six of these cays, all of different shapes and 
appearance : — Frenchman's Cay, 90 feet high, 7i miles 
from Monkey Point ; The Sisters, two lovely islets 9 
miles off, and scarcely a mile from the shore, but with 
treacherous breakers two miles outside them; then 
Pigeon Cays, 11 miles up the coast, the largest 110 
feet above the sea, with a white rock near it 50 
feet in height, with trees on its top ; lastly, with its 


red sides and green-capped summit, comes Guano Cay, 
15 miles off, and nearly abreast of the southern en- 
trance of Blcwficlds Lagoon, called Hone Sound. 

The rest of the way the coast is dangerous, so we 
gave it a wide berth, and, rounding-to, off Blew- 
fieids Bluff, anchored in seven fathoms. We were 
off the Bluff, it is true, but to all intents and purposes 
in the open sea, for that famous headland docs not 
afford the slightest shelter when the trade- wind blows 
from the usual quarter. 

The surrounding land being very low, " The Bluff" 
looks like an island when approaching it from sea- 
ward ; in former times it was a famous stronghold 
of the buccaneers, and even yet tradition, especially 
amongst the negro and Carib population, preserves 
heart- stirring accounts of the prowess of those free- 
booters, the forays they made, the enormous booty 
they brought back, and their carousals, in which their 
ever-ready and faithful allies, the Mosquito Indians, 
took part, nothing loth. Traces are still to be seen of 
their rude fortifications, and a fine well yet remains 
which was dug for their use, although but little can 
be said for the quality of the water, a commodity not 
easily procurable here, and hence the reason the site 
was not chosen for the town afterwards built. Wher- 
ever you go in the Caribbean Sea, you are sure to 
hear stories of hidden treasure ; but of all the likely 
places I know, I think Blewfields Bluff would offer 
as good a chance as any to the treasure-hunter. 

Although there was a good sea running when we 
anchored, we escaped the heavy rolling we were so 


unpleasantly subjected to at Grey town, for the course 
of the current here is with the wind, not against it, as 
at that anchorage ; consequently we rode head to sea, 
without the aid of the boom-mainsail, and could there- 
fore eat our meals in peace. 

Long before reaching the anchorage, preparations 
were made for a run on shore, and, very soon after 
the anchor was down, those who could be spared from 
duty on board took their places in the cutter and 
started for terra firma. The breeze was fresh, and 
there was rather an animated sailing match between 
my boat and that containing the excursionists for the 
three miles intervening between the ship and the 
shelter of the bluff; once under its lee, we were in 
perfectly smooth water, but we had a sharp pull 
against the stream, which was setting out strongly 
from the Lagoon. 

Dividing the entrance, there is a very pretty little 
cay, called Cassava, where Mr. Eahn, the agent of the 
Eoyal Mail Steam Packet Company, had taken up his 
abode in a nice little New England cottage, perched 
on its summit. The island is named after the exten- 
sive cassava grounds which cover its surface, — Mr. 
Eahn devoting much attention to the growth of this 
useful vegetable. It was once the great food staple 
for the negroes on the plantations, and most delicious 
cakes are made from its flour; indeed, cassava-flour 
might become an important article of export, were 
good grinding-mills introduced. At present there is 
but little demand for it, owing to the very limited trade 
on the coast. We stopped at the cay to make Mr. 


Balm's acquaintance, and were most hospitably re- 
ceived by him. 

When we started for the town, Mr. Eahn fired off a 
small brass cannon and hoisted the English ensign, so 
as to give the authorities and people timely notice ; 
but this turned out to be mere waste of powder and 
bunting, as, unfortunately for us, we were more than 
two hours in reaching the settlement, and the boats 
being in full view the greater part of the time, of 
course every one was aware that a ship had called at 
the Bluff, and that visitors were approaching. The 
fact is that the Lagoon, a very extensive sheet of 
water, is so encumbered with shoals, that it is a diffi- 
cult matter to take any craft larger than a canoe up to 
the town. 

After leaving Cassava Cay, and hoisting the sails 
with a fine fresh wind, the Lagoon soon opened out in 
all its beauty. It is a noble sheet of water, as smooth 
as a mirror, and studded towards its southern end with 
several cays, on one of which a large body of Chris- 
tianized Eama Indians live and thrive ; while another, 
nearly opposite the town, is covered with a fine growth 
of cocoa-nut trees. At the northern end of the La- 
goon, the river Blewfields or Escondido empties itself 
by several mouths, — the northernmost having the 
deepest water ; but all are shallow, like the Lagoon 
itself, and it is not until the river is fairly entered 
that one can judge of its size and value. 

I hardly ever remember to have had a more tanta- 
lizing passage than in my gig from Cassava to Blew- 
fields, on this occasion ; scarcely had the boat been 


dragged clear of one shoal, when grit, grit, there she 
was hard and fast on another, so that at last we were 
obliged to take down the sail and haul her along by 
main force ; the men tucking up their trousers and 
dragging her over the ground through the deepest 
water they could find. It was lucky for them that the 
soles of their feet were pretty tough, for the bottom 
of the Lagoon is covered with oysters, which would 
cut through an ordinary cuticle in no time. 

As to the cutter, she soon came to a standstill, and, 
after a time, returned to Cassava Cay, where both 
officers and men had a great oyster feast, and then 
went on board with a sufficient quantity of those suc- 
culent delicacies to serve as a supper for all hands. 
The oysters are very small, not much larger, indeed, 
than a good-sized mussel, and somewhat similar in 
shape, but having all the flavour and slipperiness of a 
real " native." The supply is unlimited, and I am 
surprised that some enterprising Yankee has not long 
since set up a Central American oyster saloon, after 
the pattern of those in New York, where you have a 
choice of no less than twenty -two different methods of 
cooking this justly popular bivalve. 

At length, after two hours' hard work, which the sun 
above and the oysters below caused us to remember 
long afterwards, the boat reached a small jetty, which 
had been run out from the rising ground on which 
stands the King's house, surrounded by a number of 
cocoa-nut and breadfruit-trees, which not only give 
it a most acceptable shade, but also a very picturesque 
appearance. This jetty was built of stones and lumps 



of coral, the top covered with cockle-sliells in imita- 
tion of a gravel-walk in England. At the end of 
it stood the King, dressed in a white jacket, waist- 
coat and trousers, and felt hat, just as he is depicted 
in the accompanying woodcut, which is drawn from 

a photograph of his Majesty, taken by the doctor 
of the E.M.S. Solent, under great disadvantages, and 
with a most imperfect camera ; but as there is no like- 
ness of any King of Mosquito extant, I publish this, 
on the principle that half a loaf is better than no 
bread, and because, at all events, it will give some idea 
of Mosquitian royalty. 

The King received us on landing with great kindness 


and courtesy, and begged us (some of the officers had 
taken a passage with me in the gig) to come into his 
house at once out of the sun, whose rays were some- 
what of the warmest, — an invitation no one was slow to 
accept. A short climb brought us to the front door of 
a very commodious American lumber-house, with ve- 
randa and shingled roof. The house, as usual, was 
raised some feet from the ground on brick pillars, so 
that a good current of air could always pass under- 
neath, preserving the flooring from damp, and prevent- 
ing vermin from harbouring there. Altogether, for 
the climate, a better and more comfortable style of 
dwelling could not be desired. There were four good- 
sized rooms on the ground floor, besides those upstairs, 
while the kitchens and outhouses were built a little 
way off. 

The King's servant, a tall Sambo, his only atten- 
dant, showed us into one of the ground-floor rooms, 
and gave us a good supply of water, towels, soap, etc., 
with which to refresh the outward man ; while a tray 
of tumblers containing pale ale did good service to- 
wards recruiting the nearly exhausted inner man. 
At the same time the boats' crew were equally well 
taken care of by the King's thoughtful kindness. 

The ale had to be sent out for, as the King did not 
indulge in the luxury of a cellar ; he knew, however, 
what would be most acceptable to us, although he was 
not addicted to beer himself, being more inclined to the 
somewhat stronger liquors distilled in Jamaica. In the 
present instance the bottles, by the time they arrived, 
were of the warmest, having been brought from the 


shop in a basket carried on the head of a young 
Carib under a broiling sun ; but in spite of this, and 
with no remedy in the shape of ice (such a thing as 
frozen water never having been seen at Blewficlds), 
the general satisfaction at the appearance of our 
national drink was unbounded. I shall not soon for- 
get the chorus of deep-drawn sighs of relief and enjoy- 
ment which were elicited from my worthy shipmates 
when a good draught of this most delectable fluid had 
passed over their dry and thirsty throats. 

Having been thus comfortably provided for, both 
inside and out, we repaired to the King's room, where 
I formally introduced the officers who had accompanied 
me in the gig. The King shook hands cordially with 
each, and said he was delighted to see us, and hoped 
the refreshment of a bath and some beer would go 
far towards banishing from our minds the difficulty 
we had found in reaching his house, but that for the 
future we must always have a native with us when 
we entered the Lagoon, the navigation being so intri- 
cate and difficult. Of this there could be no doubt ; 
and I told his Majesty that I would take very good 
care not to enter the Lagoon again without a pilot, at 
least until I had made myself acquainted with a channel 
from Cassava Cay to the town by which a boat could 
be sent from the ship to the settlement in something 
less than two hours. 

We now had time to take a good look at George 
Augustus Frederic, the King of Mosquito. He was 
about five feet seven inches in height, well built, but 
slight, and of pure Indian blood. His complexion was 


swarthy — darker than that of a Spaniard, but still 
fairer than the generality of his countrymen, probably 
because he was not subjected to the life of constant 
exposure and hardship which is their common lot ; his 
face was flat, like that of a Chinese, cheek-bones high 
and rather prominent, the nose small and thin, — a dis- 
tinguishing feature of the Mosquitians, the other tribes 
on the coast not being characterized by this marked 
peculiarity, but, on the contrary, having noses similar 
to those of other Indians, nay, in some instances, 
even prominent. His hair was very black, cut rather 
short, and parted on one side ; it was very fine, and 
straight, without the slightest appearance of a curl or 
even waviness. Having neither whiskers nor mous- 
tache, nor in fact the least vestige of a hair on his face, 
and with the delicately- shaped hand and foot of his 
race, he gave one the idea of being very young ; he 
was not quite thirty, but looked scarcely twenty. 

The King was educated at Jamaica, and I could not 
help remarking to him that I had never known any 
one out of England who spoke English so perfectly, 
without the least perceptible foreign accent. He said 
that he felt more like an Englishman than anything 
else, and in fact considered English his proper language, 
for he certainly could not speak Mosquitian so well. 
Altogether, it was impossible not to be impressed with 
his Majesty, and I could not help speculating on the 
different fate that might have befallen him and his 
people had the life of his guardian and adviser, 
Mr. Walker, been spared. This gentleman had been 
appointed by the English Government to the above- 


named post, and was beginning to carry ont many 
well-considered plans and projects, not only in the in- 
terests of the King himself, but also for the tribes and 
country under his rule, when he met his death by 
drowning at the mouth of the river Serepiqui in 1848. 
He was accompanying the expedition under Captain 
Lock, B.N., which had just ejected the Mcaraguans 
from Grey town, and was then engaged in driving 
them up the river San Juan, and across the Lake of 
Nicaragua to Granada, where Captain Lock dictated 
terms to the Mcaraguan government from his gig. 

The King very kindly showed us over the house, 
which he explained was not his own, but belonged to 
Doctor Green fas he called him), English consul at 
Greytown, about whom I have elsewhere spoken. It 
appears that our consul first came to Mosquito on the 
staff of Mr. Walker, as a sort of medical attendant, 
hence the descriptive appellation. At that time he 
was in very delicate health, but the Mosquito coast 
has evidently agreed with him. 

In the King's sanctum I found a good assortment 
of books, including some of the best English authors ; 
the works of Shakespeare, Byron, and Sir Walter 
Scott had evidently been read and re-read many 
times, as their owner was very fond of repeating 
extracts from them. There were also some books 
especially relating to Central America and the Mos- 
quito Coast, such as John Cockburn, ' A Journey 
Overland from the Gulf of Honduras to the great 
South Sea, by J. C. and five English Sailors, in the 
year 1730;' Young's < Mosquito Shore;' 0. W. Eo- 


bert's 'Journey up the Eiver San Juan and passage 
across the Lake of Nicaragua;' and I noticed a 
book called c Waikna, or Adventures on the Mosquito 
Shore, by Samuel A. Bard (E. G. Squier),' — a par- 
tisan attack on the King and people of the Mosquito 
coast, published by Samuel A. Bard (E. G. Squier), 
the late American minister to Nicaragua. The King, 
on seeing me look at this book, said that he would lend 
it to me to read, and that until he had read it, he could 
not have believed it possible for any one to string to- 
gether for any purpose such a pack of lies ; especially 
when it was notorious that the author had never 
visited the Mosquito Coast. " I am told," said the 
King, " that Mr. Squier has written other books, I 
only hope with a greater regard to accuracy and truth 
than that entitled i Waikna,' for if not, they are worse 
than worthless, I fear." The King, moreover, told 
me that he had heard a good deal about Mr. Squier 
from a foreigner whom he occasionally saw at Great 
Eiver, a trader from Matagalpa, who told him that the 
American minister was known in Nicaragua as "un 
alegre menteroso " (a playful liar). I was curious 
to see the contents of this book, and therefore bor- 
rowed it, telling the King I had no personal know- 
ledge whatever of Mr. Squier, but that surely he 
must be mistaken in supposing that any one in so 
responsible a position, the representative of a great 
country, could be so foolish as to write what must 
sooner or later be proved false, and bring dishonour 
and discredit upon himself and country. 

"That may be all very well," said the King; 


" still, I fear your remark does not hold good as 
regards a Yankee. When I was a boy, I looked upon 
the Yankees as, next to Englishmen, the most honest 
and truthful people in the world, and I used to read 
at Jamaica and Belize anything relating to the pro- 
gress of their nation with delight ; but now I scarcely 
know how to express my contempt for them. Their 
first thought in business is c smartness ; ' in other 
words, how best to advance their interests by lying 
and cheating ; those who succeed through this means 
have the undisguised admiration of their fellow- 
countrymen, and no tricks are too mean or cowardly 
for them to practise to gain their ends. I tell you 
what it is," said the King, with much emphasis, " I 
would far sooner be a 'poor Indian' than the best 
Yankee gentleman in the States, — if such a being as a 
born gentleman is to be found there, of which I have 
my doubts. I have never seen one myself, and I am 
told the same by others who have enjoyed good oppor- 
tunities of observing the Yankee at home and abroad." 
I could only reply, that the King had, no doubt, 
good grounds for his strong feeling against the Yankees, 
if only from the outrage committed by their govern- 
ment in the bombardment and subsequent burning of 
the commercial and undefended town of Greytown, 
and I was free to allow that a more wanton, cowardly, 
and unprovoked attack could not have been perpe- 
trated ; but still, I thought I knew some who would 
do credit to any country. The King muttered the 
old saying, " scratch a Eussian and you find a Cos- 
sack," which I had often heard applied to the Yankees, 


themselves thus, " scratch a Yankee and you will find 
the Eed Indian," — but I took care not to correct 
the King's version. 

As I was anxious to get on board before dark, I 
was obliged to decline the hospitable invite of the 
King to stay to dinner, but we had a capital dish of 
oysters, some excellent breadfruit, and more beer for 
lunch ; and then, with a stock of pineapples, sugar- 
cane, and breadfruit, started for the ship about an 
hour before sunset. The King was kind enough to go 
some way with us in the gig, pointing out the best 
channel ; and when he had placed us in a fair way for 
the bluff, he got into his own canoe— a very beautiful 
" Dory," upwards of fifty feet long, cut out of a single 
tree, without a knot or twist of any sort in the wood — 
and paddled rapidly back to the town. For ourselves, 
the return passage to the bluff, and thence to the ship, 
was much quicker and pleasanter than the one in the 
morning, and the ship was reached in good time for 







11 "Who would like to come on shore to church this 
morning ? " said I to a number of officers who were 
early on deck, enjoying the bright, clear weather, so 
different to that of Grey Town. There was consider- 
able hesitation : first, because the experience of the 
navigation of Blewfields Lagoon was not a pleasant 
one; and, secondly, because the service on board, 
simple though it was, seemed to many of the officers 
preferable to the Methodistical rant which no doubt 
would be preached to a parcel of negroes, the effluvia 
from whom, moreover, if at all similar to a Baptist 
meeting in Jamaica, must be overpowering. 

Of course, I could not combat this notion from 
personal experience, never having attended service in 
a Moravian church; my knowledge of the Society 
being limited to one of the Brethren who accom- 

Chap. XVII.— B. P.] MR. MIERTSCHING. 275 

panied the last Arctic Expedition in search of Sir 
John Franklin, and served on board H.M.S. In- 
vestigator as Esquimaux interpreter; hut of Mr. 
Miertsching it is not too much to say that he was the 
most useful man on board, for not only did he set an 
excellent moral example to those around him, but, by 
his knowledge of mechanical arts, he proved of the 
greatest value to his shipmates, especially as a boot- 
maker, and besides taught both officers and men other 
useful Arctic accomplishments, without which they 
would have indeed fared badly. 

Having so favourable a recollection of this gentle- 
man, and a pleasing impression generally from what I 
had heard about the Moravians, as perhaps the most 
hardworking, unselfish, and practically useful mission- 
aries in the world, I was naturally anxious to see them 
engaged in their benevolent work, so as to judge for 
myself what progress they were really making with the 
Mosquito Indians, a people so widely different from 
the Esquimaux, amongst whom their great reputation 
as missionaries had been acquired. 

A few words to the above effect, and some of my 
shipmates wavered a little ; but when I pointed to a 
dusky Indian squatting in a most uncomfortable and 
awkward position on the deck, and said that he was 
waiting to pilot the boat to the landing-place, and 
that we could reach it from the ship in less than an 
hour, there was no lack of applicants to accompany me 
to the Moravian church. 

Speaking of this Indian, every one was much struck 
with his behaviour when he crawled up the ship's side 



and reached the deck ; the ship was rolling very little 
when he arrived, but he groped abont in the evident 
fear of falling, putting his hands to his head, placing 
his feet wide apart, and only taking a step forward 
with the greatest caution. Any one who has seen 
a captured albatross on the deck, and noticed its awk- 
ward attempts to move, and its utter inability to fly, 
or the action of a booby in the same position, can 
realize what I have feebly attempted to describe as to 
the utter bewilderment of this Indian; and yet he 
quite unconsciously elicited the warm admiration of 
our seamen by the ease and grace with which he 
moved about in his miserable cockleshell of a canoe, 
walking steadily and perfectly upright from the stern 
to raise the mast when we started, and, in fact, seem- 
ing by his presence alone to give that life and buoy- 
ancy to his frail craft which it certainly did not possess 
before, and which none of my bronzed and hardy 
sailors, who had a world-wide experience of the sea all 
over the globe, could ever have imparted to it; an 
admission made by more than one who a short time 
before had been irresistibly provoked to laughter at 
the, to them, novel sight of a man quite bewildered at 
finding himself on the deck of a ship. 

On leaving the ' Gorgon ' I observed that the canoe 
fell away to leeward considerably, in spite of her huge 
sail ; and we arrived in the gig at the bar and crossed 
it some time before the Indian, yet he did not keep us 
waiting many minutes at Cassava Cay, owing, no 
doubt, to his intimate local acquaintance with the set 
of the current, although he had to " paddle his own 
canoe" alone. 


With a favourable breeze, which lasted all the way 
up to the landing-place, a most unusual occurrence 
with a light trade -wind, which is checked by the land 
— low though it be — intervening between the sea and 
the Lagoon, I was able to make good my promise that 
we should arrive under an hour from the ship, and we 
at once made our way to the mission-house, merely 
paying our respects to the King on our way ; but, I 
am sorry to say, without being successful in per- 
suading him to accompany us to church. 

Before giving a description of the good and hospi- 
table people amongst whom we found ourselves, a 
short historical notice of the rise and progress of the 
mission of the United Brethren, or Moravians, on the 
Mosquito Coast may not be out of place. 

The attention of the United Brethren, or Moravians, 
was first drawn to the Mosquito shore by the circum- 
stance that certain influential friends of the Church 
in Germany were interested on behalf of some Prus- 
sians who had emigrated to that region. These people 
were without any means of religious instruction, and it 
was thought that missionary agents, speaking their 
own language, might be useful to them, and at the 
same time convert the ignorant Indian and half-breed 
Creoles of the land. 

In 1847, two missionaries, who had been employed 
in Jamaica, were sent to ascertain the circumstances 
of the country. They received a warm welcome, and 
every attention, both from the native and British au- 
thorities, and were commissioned to urge the establish- 
ment of a mission. The character of their report was 


such as to induce the General Synod of the Church, 
which met in 1848, to determine on the commence- 
ment of efforts on the coast. 

The first missionary sent out was the Eev. H. G. 
Pfeiffer, who was accompanied by his wife and two 
young unmarried men. They reached Blewfields on 
the 14th of March, 1849, and immediately set to 
work at the preliminary labours for the establishment 
of a station. A small plot of land was granted at 
Blewfields for the purposes of the mission, the most 
needful buildings were speedily erected in a simple 
style, Sunday schools established, and Divine service 
ever after regularly held. 

As the German emigrants gradually dispersed, and 
some of them settled at considerable distances, the 
missionaries, at an early period, — while not losing 
sight of any opportunity to benefit either the Euro- 
peans or the mixed inhabitants of Blewfields, — turned 
their attention to the aboriginal Indians. With this 
purpose they often made excursions to various places 
at which there was a relatively large Indian population, 
and were much encouraged by the attention of these 
poor people, and their readiness to receive instruction. 
One of the most important of these localities was 
Pearl Cay Lagoon. In 1855 a building was erected 
at English Bank in this locality, and, before long, a 
resident missionary was stationed there. This spot 
was subsequently called Magdala. Another very in- 
teresting field was Eama Cay, in Blewfields Lagoon. 
This small island is the refuge of a feeble remnant of 
the once powerful Eama tribe ; these people were dis- 

Chap. XVII.— B. P.] THE RAMA INDIAN. 279 

tinguished among their neighbours for their intempe- 
rance, and for the sanguinary conflicts which took 
place among them at times when they were under 
the influence of ardent spirits ; yet they welcomed the 
visits of the missionaries, and gladly acceded to the 
proposal to erect a school-house amongst them. This 
was effected early in 1858, and soon afterwards a mis- 
sionary and his wife went to reside there. The refor- 
mation which then took place in the entire population 
of the island was truly astonishing ; a visitor to the 
coast in November, 1859, describes the condition of the 
people as follows : — " During my short stay in this 
place, I visited nearly every family on the island, and 
was much pleased with what I heard and saw. The 
houses, indeed, are roughly built, and thatched with 
the palm-leaf, and the floors are of clay; but the 
dwellings are divided into apartments, and there is a 
degree of neatness and cleanliness about them. The 
people were decently clad, and appeared to be very 
happy. When I contrasted the present condition of 
these people with their past history, even with what 
they were three years ago, it seemed little short of a 
miracle. Three years ago, when the Eev. G. Feurig 
used to come occasionally to preach to these people, 
they were little better than a set of drunken savages, 
practising all manner of iniquities ; now they are 
decent, sober, and listen earnestly to their teachers." 

I can bear unqualified testimony to the truth of the 
above. No Indians on the coast can compare with 
these Eamas for respectability. They seem to be 
quite a community by themselves. Their very dress 


lias changed, from the waist cloth of the men and the 
apron of the women, to shirt and trousers, always 
clean and neat, with a straw hat, for the men ; chemise 
and petticoat, each of blue shirting, for the women, 
whose hair, instead of straying oyer the face and 
shoulders in tangled luxuriance, is now neatly combed 
out, parted down the middle, and generally tied up in 
a knot at the back of the head ; they also wear a straw 
hat, although a covering for the head is quite superflu- 
ous to an Indian woman, They seem to have a na- 
tural taste for agricultural pursuits, and I should 
think would be the people of all others best calculated 
to cultivate cotton. No doubt, if properly taught 
and induced to work on shares, they would soon bring 
a large portion of land into cultivation, and enrich 
both themselves and employers. They are very re- 
gular in attendance at church and schools, and seem 
to listen in rapt attention, sitting motionless, with 
their hands folded on their laps, looking like so many 
statues. With scarcely an exception, and that only 
amongst the elder portion of the community, English 
is spoken, and no doubt the next generation will 
speak nothing else, as their own language is rapidly 
dying out from disuse. 

The Eev. G. Feurig, who is mentioned above, ar- 
rived at Blewfields in July, 1856, having been com- 
missioned to take the superintendence of the mission. 
He speedily gained the confidence of all parties, and 
under his energetic direction the mission rapidly in- 
creased in extent and usefulness. 

In March, I860, Corn Island was occupied by a 

Chap. XYIL— B. P.] LAST CENSUS RETURNS, 1868. 281 

missionary. About the same time efforts were made at 
Cape Gracias a Dios, but were doomed to disappoint- 
ment in consequence of a change in the political rela- 
tions of that part of the country, when it was thought 
advisable that the missionaries should be withdrawn, 
— the more so as it then seemed likely that many of 
the Indians would also remove. 

The next point occupied was Wounta Haulover, 
since called Ephrata. It is near the coast, and has 
around it a relatively large population of Indians. 
The most recently established station is that at Tas- 
bapaonni, now called Bethany, on the Pearl Cay 

According to the last returns (June, 1868) there 
are now six stations, permanently occupied by seven 
married missionaries, who have the stated charge of be- 
tween 700 and 800 persons, as well as occasional 
hearers. Six day-schools are in operation, besides a 
training institution for boys, who, it is hoped, may 
be made useful as teachers. 

"With this prelude, I will now return to my com- 
panions, and join them in making the best of the way 
along the solitary straggling street of Blewfields to the 
" Manse," which is built as nearly as possible in the 
middle of the town. 

The house was decidedly inferior to that of the 
King, or rather that of Dr. Green; nevertheless, it 
was quite as substantially built, and furnished with 
some regard to comfort, although its fittings could not 
by any stretch of the imagination be called extrava- 
gant. But if the building was inferior to that of the 


King, I am bound to say that our welcome was not 
a whit less hearty. First we visited the schoolroom, 
which was a model of cleanliness, order, and discipline, 
and yet I did not notice the stocks with which one is 
so familiar in Spanish- American republics, nor remark 
any coercive mode of treatment whatever ; the manner 
of instilling education seemed to be rather by means 
of a general loving-kindness on the part of the teachers. 
The education imparted hardly soared above that 
learned at a dame school in England, but it was ad- 
mirably adapted to the capacity of its recipients ; the 
aim of the teacher was to fill the mental gap of each 
youthful aspirant, and nothing more; hence the pupils 
as a body did great credit, not only to themselves, but 
to their masters, — the stupid youth and the clever one 
alike may be compared to a tank supplied with a self- 
acting stopcock, neither the one nor the other can 
overrun. All the children are taught English as their 
mother-tongue, and this is the only point upon which 
any fault can be found, the fact being that the teachers 
themselves — all Germans — were by no means profi- 
cient; indeed, only learners themselves. 

The attendance was good, and included grown-up 
and young people of both sexes, but females largely 
predominated, and, indeed, excelled the other sex in 
proficiency ; all the polite letter-writing at Blewfields 
is done by the ladies. 

From the schoolroom we were summoned away by 
the church bell, and it was a most pleasing sight to 
see the inhabitants flocking from all quarters, neatly 
dressed, and making the best of their way, in a most 


orderly manner, to church, all carrying their prayer- 
books in their hands. Although built to resemble a 
church, the inside was nothing more than a long room, 
with a raised platform opposite the doors, which were 
at the sides, not the end as usual. Upon this platform 
the preacher's chair and reading-desk were placed.. The 
benches were ranged lengthways, so that the clergyman 
had no difficulty in making himself heard by every 
one. On his left the females were seated, and on his 
right the males. With the exception of one or two 
little mites of children who fell asleep, I never saw a 
more attentive congregation ; and, what is more, they 
seemed to appreciate what was said to them. Amongst 
them there was every shade of colour, from shining 
black to the clear white and pink complexion of De- 

The service consisted of an extempore prayer, hymns, 
a long litany, and the sermon, all conducted by the 
Eev. Mr. Feurig, the head of the mission on the Mos- 
quito coast, and about the best man who could have 
been found to fill such a post. There was a very good 
harmonium, and both music and singing were above 
the average. The litany was well read and fully 
responded to, and the sermon a plain, unvarnished 
exposition of a chapter in the New Testament. No 
attempt was made to mystify or frighten the people, 
but the great and beautiful truths of the Bible were 
forcibly placed before the congregation, and so ear- 
nestly, yet gently, as to command the attention, and, 
I hope, really influence the minds of those present. 
The entire service did not occupy much more than 


an hour, and the church was kept delightfully cool 
by a constant current of air, caused by lifting the 
jalousies on each side. These jalousies are fitted into 
a frame, which is hung on hinges from the top of the 
window-sill, and can therefore be opened to any extent 
at pleasure. Glass is not in request on the Mosquito 

On leaving the church I was much gratified to find 
that the naval jury were unanimous in their verdict 
in favour of these simple Moravians, and were much 
pleased at having attended so very well-conducted a 
service. There was also a general feeling of regret 
at having so completely misjudged such excellent 
missionaries. Even the most sceptical — and there were 
some amongst us who had seen misapplied mission- 
ary zeal — declared that from first to last they had been 
entirely mistaken, even as to the aroma so feelingly 
alluded to before leaving the ship ; this, however, 
was no doubt due to the arrangements for maintain- 
ing a thorough draught of air through the building. 
When the people had dispersed, we crossed the road 
and entered the hospitable dwelling of Mr. Feurig, 
where a very substantial mid-day meal was discussed 
with an appetite rather unusual at that time of day 
in a tropical climate. 

Before taking leave of the Moravians, I must give 
some account of their history, as related to me by one 
of themselves. Owing to their humble and retiring 
disposition, but little is known of this most ancient 
church, and I propose now to supply the deficiency. 

The Church of "The United Brethren" first arose 


in Bohemia, sixty years before the Beformation. In 
1457, some of the followers of John Hnss nnited to- 
gether, and adopted the name of "Unitas Fratrum," 
or "The Unity of the Brethen." In the conrse of 
a few years they became organized as a Church, with 
a synodal and episcopal government, episcopal orders, 
and a strict discipline. In spite of great opposition 
and fierce persecutions, this Chnrch stood its ground 
in Bohemia and Moravia, rapidly increasing in extent 
and influence, and embraced amongst its adherents a 
large proportion of the population, including many of 
the noblest families of those countries ; finally it spread 
into Poland. After a season of outward prosperity 
and of close alliance with the other Protestant deno- 
minations, it was, in common with them, fiercely at- 
tacked, and, after terrible persecutions from the then 
dominant Popish powers, was finally trodden down in 
the year 1627, and became almost extinct. 

Some of the descendants of the members of this 
Church, who in secret still adhered to the tenets of 
their fathers, emigrated in the year 1722, and finding 
a refuge in Saxony, on the estate of a pious and 
highly-gifted nobleman, the young Count Zinzendorf, 
founded a small settlement, which they called Herrn- 
hut. They were joined by a number of persons from 
the Eeformed Churches of Germany, by the Count 
Zinzendorf himself, and many of his friends, and by 
many more from Moravia. In the course of a few 
years they formed themselves, under the leadership of 
Zinzendorf, into a distinct religious society, in close 
brotherhood with the Protestant National Church. 


They, however, gradually adopted the ecclesiastical 
forms, discipline, and orders of the ancient Church of 
the United Brethren of Bohemia and Moravia, and as- 
serted their position as a distinct Protestant Church, 
in the midst of the other Eeformed Churches of the 
Continent, receiving concessions from the governments 
for the founding of their settlements. 

The Brethren, increasing in numbers and activity, 
soon sent missionaries to the heathen, and established 
colonies or settlements as centres of their work, and 
on the plan of the original seat at Herrnhut, not only 
in Germany, but also in Great Britain and North 
America. On their becoming known in Great Britain, 
an Act of Parliament was passed in their favour in 
1747, recognizing them as a Protestant Episcopal 
Church, and securing to them civil and religious pri- 
vileges, with special reference to their settlements and 
missionary operations in the British colonies. From 
that time their congregations have been established in 
different parts of the United Kingdom. 

There are the usual public services, and also private 
meetings of various kinds, for the members, both for 
the whole and for the several classes of the congrega- 
tion. In the morning service of the Lord's Day a 
litany is used, in other services extempore prayer is 
practised. Eor baptismal, burial, and marriage ser- 
vices, litanies are prescribed. Congregational singing 
is a prominent feature in the worship, public and pri- 
vate. The Lord's Supper is observed with a simple 
ritual, the service otherwise consisting mainly of sing- 
ing, and is preceded by a " lovefeast." Infant baptism 


is practised for the children of members of the Church, 
adult baptism for persons who have not been previously 
baptized, when admitted to membership. Confirma- 
tion is used for those who have been baptized in 

Synods form the legislative, and boards of elders 
the executive powers of the Unity and its provinces. 
The synods are composed of the ministers and depu- 
ties from the congregations, and are convened periodi- 
cally. A general synod decides on matters pertaining 
to the Unity, or the Church as a whole. Provincial 
synods regulate the affairs of their respective pro- 
vinces. The current management, from synod to 
synod, is committed to boards of direction, or elders' 
conferences, chosen by and responsible to the respec- 
tive synods. The Unity's Elders' Conference, chosen 
by the General Synod, is located near Herrnhut in 
Saxony, and is, at the same time, the board of direc- 
tion for the German province. 

Each congregation is placed under the general over- 
sight of an elders' conference, consisting of all those 
who hold any spiritual office in that congregation, or 
in those associated with it. Its finances and matters 
of discipline are entrusted to the committee, a board of 
four or five laymen, elected by and responsible to the 
council of the congregation, which consists of all the 
adult members, or, when the congregation is large, of 
representatives chosen by the whole. Appointments 
and changes of ministers are effected, as occasion re- 
quires, by the provincial elder's conferences. 

The orders are episcopal, as handed down from the 


ancient Church of the United Brethren. There are 
three grades, bishops, presbyters, and deacons. The 
bishops have no special position or authority as bishops, 
but have as such a seat and vote at the synods. The 
ministers' salaries are raised by the congregations, as 
far as they are able. Their children are educated at 
the general expense. Small retiring pensions are given 
to aged and disabled ministers and their widows, and 
to all who have held any spiritual office. 

The first missionaries, with but a few shillings in 
their pockets, travelled on foot to Copenhagen in 1732 
and 1733, and embarked thence for the West Indies 
and Greenland. In the first nine years they had com- 
menced eight missions to heathen tribes, and fifteen 
years after, their missions were sixteen in number, 
viz. to the Negroes, Hottentots, Esquimaux, Green- 
landers, and American Indians; and not only does 
their work expand in these missions, but new fields 
are from time to time entered upon, as opportunity 
offers. Their efforts on the Mosquito Coast have quite 
altered the entire native character. 

The missions at present consist of 88 stations, 318 
European missionaries, 1021 native assistants, 300 
schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, 70,311 members 
of the Church gathered from the heathen, about half 
being British subjects, 20,721 communicants, 20,000 
children in day schools, and 19,000 in Sunday schools. 
The numbers were thus distributed about the end of 




North America and Labrador 
British West Indies 
Danish West Indies . . . 
South America — in Surinam . 
Mosquito Coast . . ... 

South Africa 12 


N.W. India (for Tibet) . . 


In Congrc 






















As travelling in Mosquito must be, to a great 
extent, performed by water, and communication with 
the rest of the world takes place chiefly through Grey- 
town, the procuring of suitable boats and vessels 
became at an early period a matter of importance to 
the missionaries. Their first vessel seems to have been 
merely a canoe, in which they could traverse the in- 
land navigation. But the necessity of a larger craft for 
communication with Greytown, especially when the 
mail-boat ceased to ply regularly between Blewfields 
and that port, made itself increasingly felt. Accord- 
ingly the missionaries set to work, and a curious non- 
descript, facetiously called a schooner, was constructed 
by building upon a large canoe. She was launched 
in November, 1858, and called the i Messenger of 
Peace,' a most appropriate name in more than one 
sense. However, the Brethren were very proud of 
their handiwork, and have always looked with no 


small affection on their Noah's ark. She has done 
good service, no doubt, but it soon appeared that for 
the coast navigation a more correctly constructed and 
safer vessel was requisite. This being observed by 
the present writer on one of his exploring journeys, 
a subscription was set on foot by him among friends 
in England, which resulted in his procuring and tak- 
ing out a suitable boat. This has, however, been 
broken up by the hurricane. The old schooner, 
called ' The Messenger of Peace,' is still in existence, 
but is so crazy and unsafe that a new vessel is abso- 
lutely necessary. Towards providing for the ex- 
pense of this, an effort is being made by subscrip- 
tions, especially among friends in North America, and 
it is hoped that sufficient funds will this time be ob- 
tained to buy a schooner worthy the name, — a ' Mes- 
senger of Peace ' of course, but one able to face the 
storm if needed. 





Sevekal years' subsequent intercourse with the Mos- 
quito shore has not served to obliterate the yery 
pleasant impression made by the Sunday visit to 
Blewflelds which I have described in the previous 

That it contrasted favourably with Greytown in 
every respect was matter of general remark, and 
had it not been for the dusky complexion of the in- 
habitants, the light and airy nature of their costume, 
the waving palms, and the fierce tropical sun, we 
might have imagined ourselves in England, — so 
quiet, so orderly, and so respectfully observant of the 
Sabbath, were they all. Indeed, Protestantism has 
set its seal upon them, and with the aid of such a nu- 
cleus, let us hope the entire population may be speedily 
instructed and reclaimed, other churches and school- 
houses ere long dot the land, and, as a consequence, 

v 2 


a new era be inaugurated, which shall have for its 
object the attainment of that civilization and pro- 
sperity to which the country, from its geographical 
position, great fertility, and unbounded resources, may 
so justly look forward. 

The superiority of the people in social habits and in 
the amenities of life over their neighbours could not 
fail to strike any one who had travelled in the adja- 
cent republics of Central America. It was not in the 
neatly -kept church and well-ordered school alone that 
the ameliorated condition of the people could be traced, 
but in the consistent application of the religious in- 
struction taught by the Moravian missionaries. 

These good men were not without their troubles, 
for the ruler of the country in which their lot was 
cast was a source of great anxiety to them. He pro- 
fessed to be a Christian, and was unquestionably the 
man of all others, living in Mosquito, who had re- 
ceived the best education, but his conduct was a per- 
petual scandal to them. He could not be induced to 
attend church, and fell an easy victim to the slightest 
temptation of indulging in more wine or spirits than 
was good for him. Poor king ! he was a disappointed 
man, utterly wasted and thrown away. After the 
death of his guardian, Mr. Walker, who seems really 
to have had the advancement and prosperity of Mos- 
quito at heart, he soon found that left to himself he had 
not force of character to cope with the many adverse 
circumstances by which he was surrounded, and that 
he was almost openly made a tool of for political or 
selfish purposes. It is therefore not so much to be 


wondered at that he gave way to the besetting sin* 
of his race, and thus painfully neutralized his really 
great abilities — abilities which, under firm and de- 
cided direction, might have materially aided in placing 
Mosquito in a proper position. 

There is no doubt that a decent observance of reli- 
gious duties on his part would have induced a very 
large number, if not all, of his aboriginal countrymen, 
to follow the example of the Eamas, and become, 
like them, Christianized, well-ordered, useful, and in- 
dustrious members of society. 

The King clearly understood the advantage that 
would accrue from such a unity of feeling among his 
subjects, who, instead of roaming naked through the 
forest, might then have lived together in villages ; so 
that the fast dying out remnants of the tribes, now 
often at variance one with the other, would have be- 

* The following naive confession of a former Mosquito king is pro- 
bably unique in regal annals : — 

" I hereby authorize Mr. Thomas Hedgcock, of London, to declare 
the grant of Blewfields to Captain Peter Le-le-Shaw, of Guernsey, to 
be declared null and void, in consequence of some very unpleasant 
circumstances attending the death of my late brother, which appearing 
very suspicious against the said Peter Le-le-Shaw ; and that when T 
gave said grant I was not c compos mentis,'' but had been, together with 
my chiefs, made inebriated ; neither was I aware that my late lamented 
brother, George Frederick Augustus, had previously given to Captain 
William Smith a similar grant for said territory of Blewfields. 

" Given under my hand at Cape Gracias a Dios, this tenth day of 
May, 1837. 

" (Signed) R. C. Frederick, 

" King of the Mosquito Nation. 

" (Witnesses Robert Haly. 

" Peter Cox." 


come a peace-loving and industrious people, competing 
only as to which part of their country could be made 
to yield the largest amount of agricultural or natural 
produce, in the shape of cotton, cocoa, sugar, coffee, 
and indigo ; or, precious metals, woods, dyes, bal- 
sams, gums, and indiarubber. 

It was impossible not to pity the King, whose great 
misfortune seemed to be that he had not succeeded in 
making for himself a single enemy as a stimulant. No 
one, indeed, could help liking him, and this feeling be- 
came stronger on better acquaintance, as all of us had 
an opportunity of proving ; for I found it advisable to 
ask his Majesty to pay me a visit on board the c Gorgon/ 
and take a cruise with me to some interesting parts of 
the Coast. 

The King accepted my invitation with unfeigned 
pleasure, and would have started for the ship there 
and then (so eager was he for the trip), had it been 
convenient for me to do so ; in the meantime, while 
preparation is being made to receive royalty with due 
honours, I must describe a visit to the King's relatives, 
— his mother and sisters. 

The King himself was a bachelor, the last in direct 
descent of a long line of Mosquitian rulers, and of pure 
Indian blood ; his heir-apparent was the son of his 
elder sister, the Princess Victoria, who was married 
to a highly intelligent Mosquito Indian. 

The younger sister is also married, but to an En- 
glishman, a quondam settler in the vicinity of Cape 
Gracias 4 Dios, who, however, for reasons best known 
to himself, has not entered an appearance in his 


adopted country for some time. Indeed, the Princess 
considered herself a widow, and would probably have 
felt quite justified in accepting the first eligible offer 
made to her. 

The Queen Dowager and her daughters live at 
Blewfields for the greater part of the year. They 
have another residence two days' journey up the river, 
which is, however, seldom inhabited, as the ladies 
prefer living in town. 

The house at Blewfields was constructed of native 
material, and did not differ in its outward appearance 
from the houses of the Indians at the time when Co- 
lumbus sailed along the coast in 1502, except in so 
far that it possessed window-shutters and a door. The 
roof was high-pitched, and neatly thatched with palm ; 
the walls very light and elegant, being simply split 
bamboo, interwoven between the uprights. The floor 
was neatly boarded, and raised some feet off the ground, 
being supported on timbers dovetailed into the up- 
rights, so that the building had the appearance of 
being raised on a number of stilts. The door was 
approached by a flight of wooden steps. Altogether, 
for adaptability to the nature of the climate, no better 
residence could be desired. 

Inside, we found the furniture of the simplest kind ; 
consisting merely of a few chairs and a table, without 
even the hammock, which, from universal adoption 
and constant use by the descendants of the conquerors, 
has come, very justly, to be called the Spanish ham- 
mock, although in truth an Indian invention. 

The King told us to walk into the outer room, while 

296 DOTTING® ON THE ROADSIDE. [Chap. XVI1L-13. 1\ 

lie himself announced our arrival to the ladies within. 
They did not, however, after the manner of their sex, 
keep us a long time in waiting while they adorned, but 
speedily made their appearance. 

The Queen Dowager and both her daughters were 
tall and thin, not to say bony, — the tallest Indian 
women indeed I have ever seen. They were attired in 
common print dresses, such as are used by servants in 
this country in the morning ; without collar, cuffs, or 
ornament of any sort whatever. Their luxuriant black 
hair was braided in two heavy plaits, which hung down 
their backs, and the simplicity of their attire was not 
even marred by the addition of shoes and stockings. 
Indeed I shrewdly suspected that the gown was the 
sole and only garment the ladies possessed ; and this 
suspicion was verified before I left the presence, for 
struck by their extreme straightness, their up-and- 
downness, so to speak, my thoughts reverted to our 
dear charmers at home (who at that time were striv- 
ing to out-rival each other in the amplitude of their 
skirts), and I could not resist speaking through the 
medium of the King, who acted as interpreter for his 
mother, of the utility and elegance of a certain article 
of dress much in request in my own country. The 
younger princess interposed, however, with charming 
naivete, remarking that one garment was quite enough 
in Mosquito, and that the addition of another would 
be a burden grievous to be borne. This remark was 
accompanied by a playful shake of her only robe, 
putting me forcibly in mind of a somewhat similar 
display of unsophisticated nature on the part of Queen 


Pomare, at Tahiti, on the occasion of a grand reception 
on board the French Admiral's ship, when her Majesty 
came to a full stop before one of the seamen, who, 
after the manner of his class, had a figure of his 
Polly in red, hand in hand with himself in blue, tat- 
tooed on his breast. 

Staring intently and admiringly at this work of art, 
the queen manifested a desire, to the intense horror of 
the French officers assembled in full uniform on the 
quarter-deck, in honour of the occasion, to prove prac- 
tically that she also was an animated picture-gallery, 
and inasmuch as she was dressed as lightly as the 
Mosquitian princess, with this only difference that she 
wore a green silk instead of a cotton print, it would 
have been an easy matter for her to demean herself in 
a manner unbefitting her sex and her station, had not 
one of the aforesaid officers, with national agility, in- 
terposed and driven away the abashed seaman with his 
too attractive cartoon, — followed, I am sorry to say, by 
a guttural chorus of a favourite French expletive, be- 
ginning with an 8,— -it was not sucre. But to leave 
Polynesia and return to Mosquito, — the ladies seemed 
to exercise considerable influence over their kingly 
relative, and there was an unaffected quiet dignity 
about the queen-mother which struck me very for- 
cibly ; indeed, I afterwards found that the women in 
this country are far better treated than is usual with 
savage or semi-civilized nations or tribes. 

Before taking leave, lemonade and tamarind water 
were brought in, but I did not observe the national 
drink of Central America, " Tiste," which, on inquiry, 


I found was unknown on the Mosquito Coast. On 
telling the ladies that the King was going off to the 
ship with me for a cruise, they replied that, for his sake, 
they wished it could be extended to England, where 
they believed his presence for ever so short a time could 
not fail to benefit their country. 

It was a glorious day, not a cloud to be seen, but 
with a strong trade- wind blowing fresh from the N.E. 
tempering the heat, when the King took his seat in 
the gig for a passage to the ship. He seemed delighted 
at the prospect of a pleasant trip, and was in better 
spirits and more communicative than I had ever before 
seen him. 

We had a sharp pull up to Cassava Cay against the 
wind; but the cloudless sky, the bright blue sea,* and 
the beautiful surrounding scenery, made the trip a 
pleasant one, even for the men who had the warm work 
of pulling the boat. 

As we opened out the Bluff, a large number of 
canoes came in sight, running before the breeze, which 
is always much stronger outside than in the lagoon, 
and, moreover, brings with it a considerable sea. 
Nevertheless, these Mosquito craft, which the King 
told me had come from considerable distances up the 
coast, came flying along under their huge whole sails 
(I have never seen a reefed canoe sail), and in a short 
time were within hailing distance. 

* As the dry season advances, and the rains cease to fall in the in- 
terior, the rivers no longer discharge muddy streams into the ocean, 
but come down bright and clear ; the discoloured water, therefore, 
which fringes the coast for many miles in the rainy season gives place, 
at this time of the year, to the well-known ethereal blue about which 
poets and landsmen rave so much. 

Chap. XVIII.— B. P.] A FLEET OF TU11TLERS, 299 

In a few minutes more they would have been in the 
lagoon, when the King suddenly rising from his seat, 
with a graceful wave of his arm, and with a sentence 
in Mosquitian (which I was quite guiltless of under- 
standing), as if by magic brought down all their huge 
sails, and disclosed to view in each canoe the brawny 
forms of two naked Indians, paddling with might and 
main towards the gig. 

The King turned round and explained to me that so 
soon as he had observed that the canoes were laden 
with turtle, he had at once commanded the sails to be 
lowered, and the canoes to come to him ; and he begged 
that I would do him the favour of taking what turtle 
I wished, as well for myself as for a supply to the 
ship's company. 

It was some little time before I could turn my at- 
tention to the material part of the affair, for I was 
struck with astonishment at seeing one, and in some 
instances positively two, huge turtle stowed away in 
the hollow trunk of a tree which is here called a canoe, 
so narrow in beam as barely to afford easy sitting room 
for the Indians who managed it. However, it was prac- 
tically so inconvenient to keep these canoes clustering 
round the gig, that I soon trans-shipped a few turtle, 
and would have taken more, but found that even in my 
commodious boat, there was room for very few. 

One canoe especially, with a pair of very large 
turtle I did not unload, because I found the owners 
only too anxious, for the stipulated price of one dollar 
apiece, to come alongside the ship and deliver them in 


Each of these reptilia proved more than sufficient 
for a hearty meal for the whole ship's company, and 
therefore four shillings and twopence cannot be called 
an exorbitant outlay to provide a dinner for 150 men. 

After the conclusion of this most satisfactory bar- 
gain (less than a farthing a pound for solid meat of 
the most nutritious and delicious description), the 
King allowed his amphibious countrymen to proceed 
on their voyage to Blewfields, and for the remainder 
of the passage off to the ship, amused himself and edi- 
fied me, for at the time I had not seen the operation 
myself, by giving a description of the manner in 
which these huge turtle are captured and transferred 
from their native element to the canoes. 

It appears that the Mosquito Indians often go out 
to sea for miles, indeed out of sight of land, to hunt 
for turtle. "When their prey is observed, they bring 
their canoe noiselessly up within reach of the animal, 
into which they drive a barbed spear having a 
cotton line and cotton- wood buoy attached to it, so 
that the animal cannot sink to the bottom, is soon 
tired out, and is then easily turned upon its back. 
The fins are tied together, the canoe swamped, and the 
animal floated inside, after which, by a peculiar pro- 
cess of rolling and pitching, the canoe is partly freed 
from water, in doing which long practice has given 
these Indians great dexterity. One of them then sits 
astride at the extreme end, while the other prevents the 
frail craft from turning over ; next, by means of the 
rapid action of the paddle, and the use of a calabash, the 
canoe is nearly cleared of water, so much so indeed 

Chap. XVIII.— B. P.] A HUNGRY SHARK. 301 

that both men can now enter it, and complete the 
work of baling out. In the event of capturing a 
second turtle, this process is repeated ; and although 
the sea swarms with sharks his Majesty assured me 
that he had never known a case in which the canoe- 
men had been molested by them. Indeed I after- 
wards knew an instance of a shark biting off a con- 
siderable portion of the turtle, after its flappers had 
been secured, and when it was in process of trans- 
shipment to the canoe, the Indians manifesting a total 
indifference to the presence of an enemy so much 
dreaded by every other class of seafaring men. 

It is needless to say that these men are very nearly 
amphibious, and most wonderful stories are told of 
their endurance. The rain and spray seem to run off 
their thick skins like water off a duck's back, and 
they will remain exposed to the weather for days, 
without appearing to care for it in the least. 

There are three species of turtle found on the coast, 
the green, the hawksbill, and the loggerhead; they 
frequent the cays and beaches from March to the mid- 
dle of June, and again from August to September. 

On reaching the ship, the King was received with a 
royal salute of twenty -one guns, much to the astonish- 
ment of the before-mentioned canoe -men, who had fol- 
lowed us alongside to dispose of their turtle, — one of 
the guns, under which they had placed their canoe, 
being fired in somewhat startling proximity to their 

Before I proceed to describe our cruise, I will just 
mention a brief conversation I had with his Majesty 
before leaving Blewfields. 


" My dear King," said I, " you are aware that the 
strictest discipline is, or ought to be, maintained on 
board a man-of-war, where it is especially necessary 
to stop at once the smallest tendency on the part of 
any of the crew, to indulge that propensity for strong 
liquors only too generally the fault of sailors. Now, 
it will be impossible for me to punish any delin- 
quents under my command, for a transgression of 
this kind, if they see a guest of mine, especially one 
in your position, setting the example. I must there- 
fore appeal to your good feeling to refrain, while you 
are with me, from indulging in more wine than is 

The King took these blunt remarks in very good part, 
and replied, that he had no doubt that even the temp- 
tation to excess would not occur while he remained 
on board the ship, and that he only drank too much in 
consequence of the solitary life he led, the absence of 
congenial society, and the melancholy foreboding, 
which he could not shake off, that he was the last 
chief of a doomed race. 

I thought it right to acquaint the officers with the 
tenor of this conversation, and to request that they 
would aid me in keeping temptation out of the King's 
reach, and I can only say that during the time he 
remained my guest, he faithfully- kept his word. In- 
deed, I found him a most amiable, accomplished, and 
agreeable companion, and I am indebted to him for 
much information, and very considerable assistance in 
that project for the development of Mosquito with 
which I have identified myself. 

Chap. XVIII.— B. P.] KING ON BOARD. 303 

The King made himself thoroughly at home on 
board, walking about the deck quite by himself, ask- 
ing questions and chatting pleasantly with both officers 
and men. His manners were so unassuming that he 
soon made himself liked by all on board. As for the 
six men composing the crew of his beautiful " dory " 
(or canoe), I suspect they would have been very glad 
to see their boat permanently attached to the ship and 
themselves borne on the books, for the seamen at once 
took charge of them, and by their kindness and hos- 
pitality did all they could to make their sojourn on 
board agreeable. 

These men had been selected with great thought- 
fulness from among the Creole population at Blew- 
fields, as each man spoke English perfectly. Indians 
are usually employed, but on the present occasion it 
was thought more convenient to us to have a crew 
speaking our own language. 

In the evening I invited all the officers to meet the 
King at dinner, so that he might make the acquaint- 
ance of every one ; and a very pleasant party we 
had. The King astonished us by the pertinence of 
his remarks, even on professional matters in which it 
might have been supposed he could not possibly have 
taken an interest, much less understood. For instance, 
he asked me whether any change had taken place in 
the class distinctions of officers, as he observed all 
ranks at my table. I told him that this unfortunately 
had not yet been effected in our naval service, but 
that I hoped it soon would be, and that I was a strong 
advocate for a general mess, at which all officers could 


meet, when off duty, on such terms as must tend to 
establish and maintain unanimity and good feeling. 

The King surprised us also by his knowledge of 
English poetry. He said he had tried his hand at a 
few stanzas in his own language, and repeated them 
to us. ]STo one present could understand them, yet 
the words sounded soft and musical. 

After dinner we discussed the programme of the 
coming cruise, decided to pay a visit, in the first 
place, to Corn Islands, then look in at the anchorage 
under Monkey Point, since called Pirn's Bay, and 
afterwards run down to Greytown to see how matters 
were going on there, and if the filibusters had yet 
entered an appearance, — the bare prospect of which 
seemed to give the King unqualified delight. " No- 
thing," said he, "will save Central America but an 
infusion of new blood, and that is one of the things 
the Yankees thoroughly understand ; they are born 
filibusters, especially the Southerners. "Walker had 
more than proved this already, for had he not landed 
at San Juan del Sur with 57 men only, and fought 
and won" (this with great emphasis) "the battle of 
Eivas against fearful odds, — at least twenty to one ? 
For his part he wished the gallant fellow luck, with all 
his heart. 

To all points connected with his country the King 
had evidently paid great attention, and as a slight 
sketch of the people and their historical antecedents 
may be both interesting and useful, I shall in the next 
chapter give some information on those points. 








The inhabitants of the Mosquito Beservation con- 
sist merely of remnants of tribes, such as the Mos- 
quitoes, Wool was, Eamas, and Smoos, besides the 
Caribs and Creoles, but their numbers are very much 
reduced, and now altogether barely amount to three 
thousand within the limits assigned to them by the 
treaty of Managua (1860). 

The aborigines are about the middle height, with 
very dark complexion, long coarse black hair, good 
eyes, and thin lips ; but the distinguishing feature of 
the tribes is the nose, which is sharp, thin, and small 
to a remarkable degree in those dwelling on the sea- 
coast, whilst amongst those living inland the nasal 
organ is comparatively prominent. 

The distinctive appellation of the Mosquitoes amongst 



themselves is "Waikna" "man," and all the other 
tribes imitate them in this conceit ; indeed, it is a com- 
mon practice amongst the Indians of the American 
continent, from the dwellers furthest north, the Esqui- 
maux, who call themselves " Innuit " " men," par ex- 
cellence, as far south as the Araucanians, the Pata- 
gonians, and even the wretched natives of Tierra del 

In the case of the Mosquito Indians, I can only say 
that they deserve their assumed title, for they are 
certainly true as steel, and as canoe-men I have never 
met their equals; they think nothing of bringing 
their frail cockleshell off to a ship in weather such as 
no boat could live in. I remember once, to the ex- 
treme astonishment of one of them, taking up his foot 
like a blacksmith about to shoe a horse, and carefully 
examining it, to see if its owner was web -footed, so 
as to account in some measure for the man's amphi- 
bious performances. 

Some of the customs of the aborigines are curious, 
especially those practised at births, deaths, and mar- 
riages ; the inevitable mushla is present on each occa- 
sion, when the men imbibe it until they become 
hopelessly drunk. 

Their marriage rites are of the simplest. A girl at 
a very early age, say between eight and nine, is be- 
trothed to a young man, who at once takes up his re- 
sidence in the house of her parents, whom he assists 
until such time as his lady-love is old enough to be 
married, when, without any ceremony, they are recog- 
nized as man and wife. The young couple sometimes 


start housekeeping on their own account, though gene- 
rally they remain with the bride's parents. 

This custom has a great influence in softening the 
manners of the men, and places the ladies in a very 
commanding position ; indeed, daughters are at a pre- 
mium, instead of being at a discount, as with other 
savage tribes. Besides, man and wife have the means 
of becoming so well acquainted with each other before 
marriage, as seldom to indulge in matrimonial squab- 
bling afterwards, so that unwonted peace is found in 
their lodges. The woman is really the partner of the 
man, and, save and except in using the bow and arrows 
in war or hunting in the forest, she shares his labours 
equally. Women paddle the canoes and work in the 
plantations quite as well as the men, the superiority 
of the male being only recognized by the weapons 
which he carries. 

They have a curious custom at their burials ; one of 
the forms strictly carried out on these occasions, 
amidst intense mushla drinking, is, on the death of 
any respected member of the tribe, to extend a cotton- 
thread from the house of the deceased to the place of 
burial. This thread is stretched — regardless of obsta- 
cles, whether hill or dale, river or swamp — as nearly 
as possible in a straight line. The experience on 
these occasions might be turned to good account in 
case any enterprising telegraphist ever decides to 
carry the wires into the interior of the State of 

After death everything belonging to the deceased 
is burnt, and even his fruit-trees are cut down ; 

x 2 


a lodge is built over the grave, which is watched with 
the greatest care, but the memory of the departed is 
not cherished ; on the contrary, any mention of him is 
considered the greatest offence. The wife or wives 
(polygamy is allowed, although not common) cut off 
their long hair, from a feeling that no one ought to 
touch what their lord and master delighted to fondle. 

Births are now of very rare occurrence, the sure 
precursor of the speedy extinction of the race ; still 
the custom practised from time immemorial, that of 
excluding the woman from the village during the time 
of her confinement, is rigorously adhered to. A 
small hut is built for her in the lonely forest, all her 
food is brought there by friends of her own sex, who 
take it in turns to sleep in the hut with her ; but if 
there are tigers abroad, and some of those in Mosquito 
are quite as formidable as the East Indian type, then 
it is allowable for the husband or nearest relative to 
keep watch with his gun or bow and arrows. The 
custom is very prevalent of flattening the heads of the 
children, but owing to the heavy masses of tangled hair 
allowed to grow wild over the head of these In- 
dians, this disfiguration is not so easily perceptible as 
it is with the flatheads of Yancouver and British 
Columbia. I could never learn from any native the 
rationale of this custom ; they apparently continue the 
practice because their forefathers did the same. 

The aborigines are a strange admixture of inconsis- 
tencies ; they are intelligent and high-spirited, but 
often frivolous to an extraordinary degree. They are 
remarkably hospitable and kind ; but at the same time 


quarrelsome, addicted to occasional debauchery, and, 
amongst themselves, litigious and exacting to a greater 
extent than any other people I have ever seen. 
They will not clear away the rubbish from their houses, 
but they will undertake long journeys of more than 
two hundred miles to sell the most trifling produce. 
But the trait above all others which they possess in an 
eminent degree is scrupulous honesty, especially ob- 
servable amongst the interior tribes, and the exactness 
with which they fulfil their engagements. If any 
adventurous trader on trades-unions were to appear 
amongst them and propose a strike, I very much ques- 
tion if he would escape with life ; he would probably be 
clubbed to death, a just punishment, according to their 
lights, for suggesting meanness and absence of good 
faith in carrying out a bargain, neither of which crimes 
according to their ideas of right and wrong would be 
tolerated, — a proof, no doubt, of their savage nature. 

When under an engagement, these Indians will en- 
dure discomfort, hunger, and extra work with the 
greatest self-denial, if only treated kindly, rather than 
appear mean, deceitful, or cowardly. 

Such are the Indians whose antecedents follow. 

Early in the sixteenth century, the buccaneers dis- 
covered the great importance of the Mosquito Coast 
as a strategical point from which to prey upon the 
commerce of the Spaniards, its commodious harbours 
and lagoons affording them convenient shelter and 
rendezvous. That portion of the coast which extends 
from Cape Gracias a Dios westward to Cape Hondu- 
ras dominates the channel leading into the Gulf of 


Mexico; whilst the coast and islands to the south- 
ward between Cape Gracias and Cheriqui Lagoon, 
overlook the Caribbean Sea, and especially the ap- 
proaches to Panamd ; so that a more desirable position 
for their purpose it would have been impossible to 

In this way, the " Shore," its people, and its pro- 
ducts, first became known ; for the Spaniards were not 
anxious to narrate how signally they had failed to 
make any lodgment there, nor how implacable was the 
hostility which forbade the smallest hope of their ever 
doing so ; and therefore Mosquito, before filibusterism 
became the fashion, was comparatively unknown. 

The buccaneers, fully sharing the inveterate hostility 
to the Spaniards which characterized the Mosquito 
Indians, had no difficulty in ingratiating themselves 
with them, and ever found them ready allies in any 
forays upon their mutual foes. It was unquestionably 
owing to the friendly Indians that Morgan's success 
at Panama was due, as well as that of the famous foray 
on Segovia in the interior of Nicaragua.* 

* The settlements in Honduras and Nicaragua were incessantly 
harassed by the aboriginal tribes sallying from the forests of the 
Mosquito coast. In a dispatch sent by a governor of Cartago, in 
Costa Bica, to the Captain-general of Guatemala in the year 1727, 
grievous complaint is made of the inroads of the Mosquito Indians, 
who had burned several fine towns, and made the country desolate. 
The dispatch detailed a project for capturing the head-quarters of the 
marauders, the settlement of Cape Gracias a Dios ; and recommended 
the construction, under the protection of the guns of the ships, of a fort 
from which inroads could be carried in armed boats up the Wanks and 
other rivers. It stated that the Cape settlement could raise 1000 men 
in a few hours. 


From this alliance with the buccaneers may be 
dated the friendship of the Mosquito Indians with the 

In process of time, and mainly owing to the visit of 
an Indian prince (son of the then King), who made a 
stay of three years in England, about the middle of 
the seventeenth century, the cession of Mosquito to 
this country was tendered with the full consent of the 
various tribes. The protectorate only was accepted. 

From that day to this, the King and his subjects 
have acknowledged no other supremacy but that of 
England, and have always claimed its protectorate ; 
since then the King has always been crowned under 
English auspices, and no public act of his is considered 
binding (although the succession is hereditary) until 
his title be thus recognized and ratified. 

English settlements were first formed in 1730, at 
Black Eiver, Cape Gracias, and Blewfields ; and eleven 
years later, civil government was established, and 
forts were built, which were garrisoned by British 

In June, 1760, the American treaty was signed at 
Madrid ; and by the 7th Article* it would seem that 
Spain fully recognized England's land-tenure on the 

* " The King of Great Britain, his heirs and successors, shall have, 
hold, and possess for ever, with full right of sovereign dominion, pro- 
perty, and possession, all lands, countries, islands, colonies, and do- 
minions whatever, situated in the West Indies, or in any part of 
America^ which the said King of Great Britain, and his subjects, do at 
this present hold and possess ; so that in regard thereof, or upon any- 
colour or pretence whatever, nothing may or ought ever to be urged, 
nor any question or controversy moved, concerning the same, here- 


Western Continent, and formally waived any right to 
raise or move "any question or controversy concern- 
ing the same hereafter." 

Black River appears to have been the chief settle- 
ment at that time. The fort was garrisoned by a com- 
pany of the 49th Eegiment nnder Captain Lanrie. 
Lord Bathurst ordered a legislative conncil to be 
chosen there in 1775. King George, the great-grand- 
father of the late King, was crowned there in 1777; 
and in the previous year, under commission, a Court 
of Common Pleas was established. 

In 1778, in consequence of a quarrel between the 
Governor of Jamaica and the Superintendent of the 
Shore (in relation to the interpretation of the 19th 
Article of the treaty of Versailles), the latter was su- 
perseded, the fort razed to the ground, the detachment 
of soldiers and the guns removed to Jamaica, the Mos- 
quito Indians abandoned, and the charge of their go- 
vernment resigned. 

The clause alluded to was this : — " His Britannic 
Majesty shall cause to be demolished all the fortifica- 
tions which his subjects shall have erected in the Bay 
of Honduras, and other places of the territory of Spain, 
in that part of the world, within four months after the 
ratification of the treaty," etc. 

The Superintendent of the " Shore" declared that 
the Mosquito Coast had nothing to do with the Bay of 
Honduras, inasmuch as that Bay was bounded to the 
eastward by the Bay of Islands ; and it was certainly 
not a "place of the territory of Spain," never having 
been in the occupation of that power. But, unfor- 


tunately, he knew too much, and was punished ac- 
cordingly ; the fate, probably, of many an enterprising 

Yery possibly the idea of the Spanish diplomatists 
who negotiated the treaty was rather to open the way 
for destroying the young colony of Belize, which is 
" in the Bay of Honduras," than to acquire possession 
of Mosquito, where former experience had taught 
them little was to be hoped for against the determined 
opposition of a warlike race. 

In 1780 Captain Horatio Nelson ascended the river 
San Juan, and made the celebrated attack on the 
Spanish forts in Nicaragua. 

The idea of cutting off the connection between the 
northern and 'southern possessions of the Spaniards 
in America by seizing the water communication 
which almost divides the American Continent at this 
point, viz. that of the river San Juan and the Lake 
of Nicaragua, was a grand conception, and if such a 
base for future operations had been taken possession 
of, and resolutely held, it must indeed have proved no 
slight embarrassment to the enemy ; but the nature of 
the country and climate had not been properly studied ; 
the fitting out of the expedition was ill-considered and 
faulty ; and, had it not been for the almost superhuman 
exertions of Nelson, the failure of the expedition would 
have been even more disastrous than it was. 

Nelson could not, of course, command success, how- 
ever much he deserved it ; and in spite of all his efforts, 
the great object of the expedition was not accomplished. 
It is true that he satisfactorily disposed of every tan- 


gible enemy that crossed his path, and captured all 
the forts and earthworks in his way; but when his 
scanty force of 1800 men had been thinned down to 
380, and he himself was reduced to the verge of the 
grave, there was no alternative but to effect a retreat. 

Mismanagement and entire ignorance of the country 
were the main causes that this really clever project did 
not produce the results expected. As far as gallantry 
could effect anything, each officer and man did more 
than his duty, and Nelson particularly distinguished 
himself by " boarding" — as he termed it — and carry- 
ing the outlying sixteen-gun battery of San Bartolo, 
which was designed as an outpost to defend the ap- 
proach to the formidable works of " Castillo Yiejo." 

In 1786, another treaty was concluded with the 
King of Spain, which entailed ruin on hundreds of 
British subjects, who, upon the faith of a British pro- 
tectorate, had established themselves in Mosquito. 

By the terms of this treaty, it was agreed that " the 
Mosquito country should be evacuated by the subjects 
of his Britannic Majesty, and that he should disown 
in the most solemn manner any obstruction to such 
evacuation." His Catholic Majesty, on his part, 
" prompted solely by motives of humanity, promises 
to the King of England that he will not exercise any 
severity against the Mosquito Indians inhabiting in 
part the countries that are to be evacuated in virtue of 
the present convention, on account of any connection 
which may have subsisted between the said Indians 
and the English." 

His Catholic Majesty kept his word by making 

Chap. XIX.— B. P.] 



forays along the coast ; but, in spite of every effort, no 
head could be made against this indomitable aboriginal 
race; and in 1796, the Spaniards, having suffered a 
signal defeat at Black Eiver by a Mosquito force, gave 
up their attempts in despair, and the natives were not 
again molested by Spain. 

During the whole of this lengthened period (150 
years) the Mosquito Indians were closely connected 
with England ; and English settlers steadily increased 
at various points on the coast, such as at Greytown, 
Corn Islands, Blewfields, and Cape Gracias k Dios.* 
Some of these places have contributed in no slight 
degree to swell the commerce of England : large 
shipments of mahogany have been made from the lat- 
ter place and Blewfields, whilst from Corn Islands the 
finest sea-island cotton which has ever reached Liver- 
pool has been exported. 

* Subjoined is the bill of fare of an entertainment given by the 
officers of a detachment of the 3rd Regiment (Buffs) at their station on 
the Mosquito Coast. It will give some idea not only of the progress of 
civilization in that part of the world, but also of the delicacies in 
highest estimation there at the end of the eighteenth century. 

Bill of Jare. 


Man ati 













Indian Rabbit 






At the close of the eighteenth century, the best 
authorities give the number of settlers and their de- 
pendants at 1200, while the aborigines themselves 
did not probably exceed 10,000. 

The nineteenth century was ushered in with signs 
and portents of convulsion; the veil which had en- 
shrouded Spanish America for three centuries was now 
destined to be rudely and completely torn aside, and 
retributive justice was at last about to overtake the 
descendants of those whose inhuman crimes had filled 
their footprints with blood. The revolt of the North 
American Colonies from the British Crown, after seven- 
teen years of dispute and fighting, namely from 1766 
to 1783, severed for ever the political bond which up 
to that time had united them to the mother-country. 
This event was followed, scarcely seven years after, 
by the great French Eevolution — a convulsion of not 
only such magnitude as endangered every throne in 
Europe, but reverberated with an earthquake-shock 
from the confines of Chili to the extreme northern 
possessions of the Spaniards in California, and that 
with such startling effect that, between the years 1810 
and 1826, Spain found herself deprived of every inch 
of ground on the great continent she had discovered, 
and once so proudly called her own. 

The following tabular statement will show at a 
glance the population and area of the vast possessions 
lost to the mother-country when the descendants of 
the conquerors threw off the yoke of Spain ; and what 
those descendants have since accomplished with the 
possession of more liberty and equality than they know 
what to do with. 

Chap. XIX. 

-B. P.] 

































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The above table gives rise to very serious reflec- 
tions. A diminution of nearly one-half the population 
during fifty years of absolute freedom is a very grave 
matter, and it becomes an important consideration 
what freedom is worth under such circumstances. 

The prediction of Bolivar, the Liberator, or, as he 
is sometimes called, the Washington of Spanish 
America, in his last letter, dated 9th Nov., 1830,* to 
General Flores, about a month before his death, is 
now in course of working out, and before very long 
will be fully accomplished in the total disappearance 
of the descendants of those who by cruelty, bigotry, 
and every species of crime, have reduced this magni- 
ficent country to its present degraded condition. 

The difference between the fortunes of the Latins 
and Anglo-Saxons on the American Continent has 
been marked indeed ; the prosperity of the latter is 
probably due to the absence amongst the earlier emi- 
grants of the enervating influences of the Eomish re- 
ligion. But be that as it may, they certainly strove 
to act fairly ; while the Latins, on the contrary, made 

* " I have been in power for nearly twenty years, from which I 
have gathered only a few definite results : — 

" 1. America, for us, is ungovernable. 

" 2. He who dedicates his services to a revolution, ploughs the sea. 

"3. The only thing that can be done in America is to emigrate. 

" 4. This country will inevitably fall into the hands of the unbridled 
rabble, and little by little become a prey to petty tyrants of all colours 
and races. 

" 5. Devoured as we shall be by all possible crimes, and ruined by our 
ferociousness, the Europeans will not deem it worth while to conquer us. 

"6. If it were possible for any part of the world to return to a state 
of primitive chaos, that would be the last stage of Spanish America. 


the sacred emblem on the hilts of their swords the 
excuse for the excesses committed with the blades. 
The latter strove to acquire the land peacefully, the 
former by unrestrained violence of the most brutal 

The first English settlers established themselves at 
Boanoke, Virginia, in 1585, nearly 100 years after 
Columbus landed in San Salvador ; and from that 
small beginning they have increased and multiplied to 
about 30,000,000, and now overshadow at least the 
northern portion of the continent, all of which they 
are destined to possess at no very distant period of 
time if they make up their minds that the late civil 
war shall be the last.* 

A mania for civil strife has been the ruin of the 
Spanish American States ; but their bitter agony will 
not have been endured in vain if it proves a warning 
to their northern neighbour. True freedom has been 
awfully desecrated in the hands of Spanish Americans ; 
for the last fifty years, not a single year has passed 
without a revolution breaking out in at least one of 
the many republics which sprang into life with inde- 
pendence ; and to that cause alone is attributable the 
alarming decrease of the population, the ignorance of 
the people, the poverty of the country, and the chronic 
state of anarchy, confusion, and bloodshed, which is 
now the normal condition of unhappy Spanish Ame- 

* The Spanish language is more used in the City of New York 
than in the entire State of California, although it was only twenty- 
three years ago (1846) an integral part of Mexico. 


In no part of the world, however, are more earnest 
men or more sincere patriots to be fonnd than in some 
of these Spanish American Ecpnblics; but it seems 
impossible for them to save their country from the 
slough of despond into which it is fast sinking. 

As an instance of what a steady government will 
do for those countries, it is only necessary to point to 
the Brazils, the population and wealth of which has 
steadily increased, as will be seen by reference to the 
preceding table. 

But to return to Mosquito, it also has had troubles 
like its neighbours, and for that matter a great deal 
more than its fair share, owing to the transit facilities 
afforded by its geographical position ; indeed, the su- 
perexcellence of Mosquito for such a purpose early 
attracted attention, and brought a host of politicians 
and speculators into the field, who have made it their 
battle-ground, but only succeeded in trampling under 
their feet every sentiment of truth and justice without 
mercy, as I shall endeavour to show in a subsequent 








The change from Greytown to Blewfields was, as 
narrated above, thoroughly appreciated by all of us ; 
but it was as nothing to the treat in store at Corn 
Islands, whither I now took his Majesty the King. 
Here we found an earthly Paradise (small, if not 
diminutive, it is true, inasmuch as its resources were 
only sufficient for, say, two men-of-war at a time), 
but where every one could and did enjoy himself to 
the utmost. 

We anchored in South-west Bay, which, as its name 
implies, is at the south-western extremity of the great 
island. I ought to mention that there are two islands, 
the one called Great, the other Little, the latter lying 
about eight miles to the NJ5T.E. of the former. 

In the bay, the water was so clear that we could see 
perfectly the peregrinations of a small army of sub- 


aqueous inhabitants ; and our anchor, although resting 
in six fathoms of water, seemed swollen several times 
its size, and in dangerous proximity to the ship's 
bottom, threatening as it were to knock a hole in it on 
the smallest provocation. 

Great Corn Island cannot be called even hilly, 
the highest elevation, facetiously termed " Mount " 
Pleasant, attaining the magnificent altitude of 370 
feet ; but nevertheless it would be difficult to find 
a more beautiful and picturesque spot in any 
other part of Central America, or the "West Indies. 
The sea, as stated above, is transparently clear, and 
of the brightest blue ; the beaches are of the whitest 
of white sand, diversified by occasional rocky head- 
lands, just sufficiently prominent to give variety to the 
landscape ; the whole coast-line is fringed with waving 
cocoa-nut-trees, above which rise all sorts of tropical 
foliage ; conspicuously the noble oak-like trunk of 
the breadfruit-tree, # with its great dark green leaves 
and generous crop of golden fruit. 

And of the creature comforts procurable I must also 

* The early voyagers speak in raptures of this valuable tree, and the 
facility with which it produces "a cheap loaf." So important was its 
introduction to our own colonies considered, that the English Govern- 
ment sent the 'Bounty' to Otaheite, to take a number of slips on board 
with orders to distribute them amongst the various British settlements 
over the globe; 1151 were taken on board in 1791, the first attempt 
in 1789 having failed through the well-known mutiny on board the 
'Bounty.' These trees flourish all over the West Indies and the 
Spanish Main, and are the greatest boon to the inhabitants ; they begin 
to bear about three years old, the fruit often attaining the size of a 
quartern loaf; it is eaten fried or boiled according to taste, and either 
way is delicious. 

Chap. XX.— B. P.] THE CORN ISLANDS. 323 

speak with the greatest respect. The pig, which I 
have so much abused in a former chapter, here attracts 
attention from the very different aspect he presents : 
comely, sleek, and short-legged, besides being of a 
fabulous cheapness, it is a real pleasure to eat him, fed 
as he is upon cocoa-nut and breadfruit. Excellent beef, 
goat (which takes the place of mutton to admiration), 
turkeys, fowls, ducks, and any quantity of eggs, are 
readily obtainable. The vegetable kingdom is no less 
generous; plantains, bananas, cassava, breadfruit, 
sweet potatoes, cocos ; every sort of ground provisions 
except yams (which the natives seem unable to raise, 
attributing their failure to a wretched little ant, called 
by them a " wee-wee ") can be had in abundance. As 
to fruit, there is any quantity in the shape of pine- 
apples, of the finest description, mamme-apple, avo- 
cado pear, oranges, limes, and guavas in profusion. 
The pigs, by the bye, devour great quantities of the 
latter ; and their mistresses say it gives the flesh a 
particularly fine flavour. Then there are granadillos, 
and a heap of other fruits too numerous to mention. 
In short, what Goldsmith says of Italy is equally 
applicable to this favoured spot : — 

" Whatever fruits in different climes are found, 
That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground; 
Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear, 
Whose bright succession decks the varied year ; 
Whatever sweets salute the northern sky 
With vernal lives, that blossom but to die, 
These here disporting own the kindred soil, 
Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil ; 
While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand, 

To winnow fragrance round the smiling land." 

Y 2 


But the chief boast of the islanders is the produce 
of the sea and the coral reefs, which nearly surround 
their island : here the finest turtle are seen grazing on 
the grassy bottom ; fish of every sort abound ; the 
lobster, or as it is called here, the craw-fish, is easily 
captured ; in fact, I think I have said enough to sub- 
stantiate the assertion made at the commencement of 
this chapter, that the Corn Islands contain all the 
elements of an earthly Paradise. 

It gave no small delight to my hungry crew to see 
canoe-load after canoe-load, containing specimens of 
every animate and inanimate thing I have enumerated 
above, fresh beef included, come alongside ; while it 
was no doubt equally delightful to the islanders to find 
what a capital market the ship afforded, for a ready 
sale of their produce at their own doors was a rare 
occurrence, and as they are not enterprising enough 
to seek purchasers, great quantities of fruit and 
vegetables annually rot on the ground. 

At one time a considerable amount of cotton was 
raised here, and commanded a very high price at 
Liverpool as sea-island ; indeed, almost the entire is- 
land was once covered by that plant, but on the eman- 
cipation of the negroes the prosperity of the planters 
came to an end, and now the islands can be looked 
upon as little more than a large farm, trees and thick 
bush having grown up where nothing but waving cot- 
ton was formerly to be seen. Cocoa-nuts at present 
form the only article of export, in exchange for which 
certain necessaries are procured. 

The climate is undeniably warm, but the trade- 

Chap. XX.— B.P.] A RAINY FACT. 325 

wind for a great portion of the year renders it delight- 
fully equable. It is a curious fact in connection with 
the rainfall, that during the time when the island was 
one great cotton plantation, the rainy season fell off 
from seven to five months, seven months being dry 
and five wet; but now that trees and undergrowth 
have once more reduced most of the land to a state of 
nature, the atmospherical conditions are reversed, and 
at present seven months' wet is the rule. 

Great Corn Island, a walk round which, by the bye, 
is just sufficient to give a healthy man an appetite, had 
about 280 inhabitants, Creoles and negroes, at the 
time of our visit ; but the population has since then 
slightly decreased. The islanders were quite con- 
tented with their secluded life, and stated that they 
always enjoyed excellent health; indeed, their pa- 
triarch, an English subject, as he proudly to]d me, 
was going on for ninety years of age, and had been 
connected all his life with the island. 

But, as is the case everywhere in this world, there 
is a skeleton in the Corn Island cupboard. Their 
slaves had been set free suddenly and unexpectedly ; 
this, however, could have been borne, had only faith 
been kept with the owners in respect to the promised 
payment of £25 for each slave. Such had not been 
the case, however, much to the disgust of those con- 
cerned; but I will let these good people speak for 
themselves in the following petition (the copy of one 
originally sent to the English Consul), which was 
handed to me by the chief magistrate, in the hope that 
I might be more successful in obtaining redress than 
he had been : — 



11 To James Green, Esq., H.B.M.'s Consul in Mosquito, 
and agent to his Majesty the King of Mosquito : The 
respectful Memorial of the undersigned, formerly 
proprietors and the heirs of proprietors of the eman- 
cipated slaves of Corn Island, 

u Humbly represents, 
" That your petitioners have long and patiently laboured 
under many painful difficulties, the consequence of having 
been suddenly and unexpectedly dispossessed of their slaves ; 
no notice whatever being given them, to prepare for the 
event which involved the greater part, to a great extent, in 
utter destitution, nor has their case been ameliorated by the 
receipt of a single payment of any part of the compensation 
promised them at the time of manumission. 

" Your petitioners humbly presume that you are already 
in possession of the well-known fact, that the emancipator 
of said slaves was Colonel (now General) Macdonald, a 
British officer, who on the 27th day of August, a.d. 1841, 
caused them to be assembled on South-west Bay, and did 
then and there publicly pronounce them free, in the name 
of H.B.M. Queen Victoria and the King of Mosquito, and 
at the same time openly declared and proclaimed that the 
following compensation would be paid to the owners, viz. : — 

" The proprietors of the slaves now emancipated shall re- 
spectively receive for each the sum of £25, which will be 
paid in yearly instalments, with interest thereon, until the 
amount be fully discharged. 

a Your petitioners, some of them British-born subjects, 
the others the immediate descendants of such, loyally at- 
tached to H.M/s person and government, would further re- 
spectfully state, that they were inspired with the most flat- 
tering hopes when a British Consul first became resident in 
Mosquito, and confidently hoped that through such an au- 
thority, justice would be speedily, or at least eventually, 
awarded them. They still hope and expect that this will be 
the case, and further state that your predecessors in office, 

Chap. XX.- B. P 



Messrs. Christie and Walker, did each, throughout the pe- 
riod of his superintendence, hold out encouraging hopes, 
that the compensation overdue would yet be forthcoming. 
The former also settled the rate of the interest above men- 
tioned, at four per cent, per annum, to be paid from the date 
of manumission to the time that the principal could be fully 

" Your petitioners therefore earnestly entreat, that as du- 
ties are now being levied at this island, and rent being paid 
the Government for the Little Corn Island, you will please 
to take into your earnest consideration the expediency of 
appropriating such part of the same, or other government 
funds or revenue, as you may deem proper, to the liquidating 
of the said government debt, so long due to them. 

" And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will $ ver pray. 

"March 1, 1853. A true copy attested. 

(Signed) " James Bowden, Chief Magistrate." 

No. of Slaves. 

James Bowden. 
James N. Bowden 
John Bowden 
Michael Quin 
Patrick Quin . 
John Quin 
Catherine Quin 
Mary Quin 
Margaret Quin 
Maria E. Forbes 
Eleanor Frances 
Joseph M. Nansank 




Lydia Brown . 
John Hooker . . 
Margaret Hooker 
Susan Hooker 
Amelia Hooker . 
Janette Hooker . 
Christopher Downes 
Elizabeth Cottrell 
Eleanor Culver . 
Escalona Nansank 
Caroline Nansank 

Total, slaves 

No. of Slaves. 






There can be no doubt of the justice of this claim ; 
but inasmuch as the unfortunate claimants have 
neither wealth nor influence, it is probable that they 
will have to whistle for their money, now swelled to 


some £6000. Being interested in the slave question, 
I seized every occasion of talking with the " emanci- 
pated gentlemen." They had one and all declined to 
work, and had never wavered in that resolution from 
the time of their manumission to the present day, 
thus turning the tables with a vengeance ; they had 
been allowed to squat on the land of their masters, but 
only cultivated sufficient to keep body and soul toge- 
ther ; living in a squalid, half- starved condition the 
best part of the time. Indeed, I think it may be 
laid down as an axiom, that when the negro, in con- 
tact with the white man, is freed from all restraint, he 
becomes a burden to himself and to all around him. 

But to finish my description of these Islands. 
Great Corn is in lat. 12° 13' K, long. 82° W. ; it is 34 
miles from Pearl Cay Lagoon, 38 from Blewfields, 52 
from Pirn's Bay, and 82 from Grey town. 

The Little one is scarcely less beautiful than its big 
brother, but it is almost entirely laid out in grass-land 
for the cattle which are brought from Cape Gracias, 
and looked after by about twenty of the Great Corn 
Islanders, who also collect the cocoa-nuts with which 
the island abounds. There are no springs in either 
island, but an abundant supply of water can be ob- 
tained by digging wells. The Great island is about 
three and a half miles long by two broad, and there is 
a very fair road leading all round, on which we had 
many pleasant walks and gallops, for there are several 
good sturdy horses, about fourteen hands high, well 
broken, but sufficiently spirited, in the possession of 
the Creoles. 

Chap. XX.— B. P.] BUCCANEER HAUNTS. 329 

Little Corn Island is only one and a half mile long, 
by less than half a mile broad. The channel between 
the two islands is about eight miles in width. 

There are several other islands and cays on this 
coast, indeed the name of the latter is legion ; they are 
picturesque, contain guano, and are well worth a visit, 
but too numerous to describe. Of the islands, Old 
Providence and St. Andrew's were visited by us, and 
therefore demand a passing notice. 

The former was a famous stronghold of the Bucca- 
neers ; one of their forts is still to be seen in ruins. 
Providence is much bigger than Great Corn Island, 
and in one place attains an elevation of 1200 ft. ; 
although the general average is not more than 700 ft., 
so that the land is decidedly hilly. Plenty of stock 
is obtainable here and water from a running stream ; 
the inhabitants are of the same type as those at Corn 
Islands, and number about 300. The latitude is 
13° 23' 1ST., longitude 81° 22° W. 

St. Andrew's is the largest island on the Mos- 
quito Coast, being about seven miles long by half a 
mile broad; it is about eighty miles from the Corn 
Islands, and is in lat. 12°10 / N. and long. 81° 50' W. 
There are between 400 and 500 inhabitants, all of 
English extraction, but the island, like Old Provi- 
dence, is claimed by the United States of Columbia. 
Not that this seems to give the islanders much con- 
cern; practically they govern themselves and are a 
happy family, living together in peace and plenty, 
with all sorts of surplus fruit, vegetables, and stock in 
abundance, ready for sale to any passer by. Water 


is abundant, but can only be obtained by digging 
wells ; there is not even a rivulet on the island. 

Old Providence, St. Andrew's, and the Corn Islands 
once formed outposts for the Buccaneers, and were 
no doubt eminently useful to those gentry as ren- 
dezvous in their forays on the Spanish possessions. 
At the time of the Conquest they all seem to have 
been thickly peopled, as was also the entire coast-line 
no doubt; for pottery and stone axes are constantly 
dug up. Some of the latter which came into my 
possession were very finely cut and smoothed. 

But we must now, alas, leave these enchanting is- 
land scenes, return to Greytown, and then take the 
king back to Blewfields, looking in, on the way up the 
coast, at the bay since named after the writer of these 
pages, " Pirn's Bay." I noticed some very long faces 
as we approached Greytown, and its everlasting belt 
of surcharged rain-clouds, which, if not always pour- 
ing a deluge on the place, yet very seldom take them- 
selves off for any length of time ; so that there is 
small blame, indeed, to any one for preferring the 
bright clear sky and pleasant scenes we had left be- 
hind, to the damp atmosphere and inevitable mouldi- 
ness of that famous seaport. 

However, we were not destined to endure a very 
lengthened trial of our patience, as the king made but 
a short stay (some five days), preferring to get back 
to Blewfields, where he was more at home than in 
a place very shortly to be given up to his hated foes 
" without 'by your leave or with your leave.' " 

The treaty by which this act was consummated will 

Chap. XX.— B. P.] DOG IN THE MANGER. 331 

be found in the Appendix, and is a fitting climax to 
the ignorance, not to use a harsher term, which has 
been the British characteristic in dealing with the 
Mosquito question from first to last. 

But before starting for Pirn's Bay and Blewfields, 
let us have the king's account of this Mosquito ques- 
tion, which has taken up no inconsiderable amount of 
diplomatic time ; more than once nearly caused a war 
between England and the United States ; and, proved 
after all only another instance of the dog-in-the-manger 
policy of America, as exemplified in what is called the 
Monroe doctrine — a doctrine not only essentially nar- 
row and selfish, but positively injurious to the in- 
terests of its advocates; for who can doubt that the 
stars and stripes — "the stars which enlightens the 
world and the stripes which chastises it" — are destined, 
before very long, to float over the entire North 
American continent, and that they would have floated 
over States well worth annexing, if Maximilian, in- 
stead of being murdered, had been allowed to bring 
order out of chaos in Mexico ; and English efforts to 
civilize and reclaim Central America had not been put 
a stop to by American diplomacy and filibusterism ? 

" Since my unlucky country," said the king, in one 
of his conversations with me, " first became known to 
Europe, without intermission, up to the present time, 
it has concentrated more interest than any other part 
of the continent. This is in consequence of its afford- 
ing an easier route at certain points between the At- 
lantic and the Pacific than can be found elsewhere. Of 
course, as you know, there are other localities, such as 


Honduras, and Tejuantepec further towards the north, 
where a crossing might be effected ; but nowhere so 
easily as through Mosquito and Nicaragua, or so 
quickly as via Panama^ As regards the latter, the 
object of transit is accomplished, and before my people 
become quite extinct, some of them will no doubt see 
the locomotive disputing the right of way with the 
tigers, alligators, and boas of their native land." 

"Well, King," said I, "you are quite right; the 
world at large would, undoubtedly, profit by an easy 
route through your country, and that of Nicaragua, 
so what do you say to giving me a concession for your 
portion of the line ? and I will see what can be done 
in opening an interoceanic transit. « 

" You will break your heart over it," said the king ; 
" you little know the disappointments in store. But 
if you really wish it, draw up the document you 
think necessary, and I will gladly sign it, not only to 
show my friendship for you personally, but also to 
prove my anxiety not to lose an opportunity of doing 
anything which may chance to advance the interests 
of England." 

This conversation resulted in the formal concession 
which will be found in the Appendix, and which 
originated in my idea of opening a through route, 
by making a railway from the Atlantic to the Lake of 
Nicaragua, thence running steamers across to Granada, 
and from that place by another railroad to Eealejo 
(now called Corinto) on the Pacific ; an idea never 
before, so far as I am aware, entertained by any one, 
and which, at the time I am speaking of, only took 

Chap. XX.— B. P.] TRANSIT. 3 3 3 

form and shape on paper, for the nature of the inter- 
vening country between the starting-point, since called 
Pirn's Bay, and the Lake of Nicaragua, was abso- 
lutely unknown even to the king himself. 

But before giving my readers an account of my 
efforts to disclose the features of the country and 
perfect a project which, it must be owned, was rather 
a novel one for a naval officer to undertake (although 
in my case not so much so as it may appear, inasmuch 
as I had been employed some nine years in the hydro - 
graphical service, particularly about Central America), 
I will just glance at the transit history of Mosquito, 
and the many vicissitudes the various and rival efforts 
have brought upon that country and Nicaragua. 

The great question of Transit across the American 
continent was initiated by Columbus himself, and was 
in fact his day-dream ; but its first practical impulse 
was received when Yasco Nunez de Balboa crossed 
the Isthmus of Panama, and the glorious sight of the 
broad Pacific burst upon his delighted view. 

That expedition proved how narrow was the neck 
of land which barred the way to Cathay, and en- 
couraged other enterprising men to tax their intellect 
and exhaust their manhood in the effort to open the 
" Gate of the Pacific." 

About twenty years after the expulsion of the Spa- 
niards, the Central Americans began to turn their at- 
tention to the wonderful advantages afforded by the 
geographical position of their country, and proclaimed 
their readiness to grant, to the highest bidder, conces- 
sions for opening interoceanic routes. This was a sad 


mistake ; for it gave rise, at the outset, not merely to 
international but to individual rivalry in its worst 
form : added to this, the ignorance of the native autho- 
rities was so profound that they deemed it politic to 
fan these heartburnings and jealousies with a view 
to increase this deplorable spirit of rivalry as much as 
possible ; thus both Nicaragua and Mosquito have suf- 
fered, and instead of making Transit the means of at- 
taining prosperity and commercial influence, it has 
been made a curse. 

The two great rivals for securing such a communi- 
cation as Central America offered were the English 
and the Americans, and the bitter animosity which 
resulted from the insane rivalry which ensued has 
more than once brought these two countries to the 
verge of war. Indeed, there is hardly any subject 
which has given diplomatists more trouble than the 
much-vexed Mosquito question, under which name 
the " Battle of Transit " was fought. 

The Americans, however, from the first adopted the 
bolder policy, and, therefore, to use a phrase of their 
own, were " bound to win." Their President, Mr. 
James Monroe, about the time of Spanish- American 
independence (1820), proclaimed the famous Monroe 
doctrine, " America for the Americans," or, as it has 
subsequently been defined to mean, " America for the 
Yankees," by which the principle was laid down that 
no European enterprise should be countenanced on 
the American continent. 

Canning* snapped his fingers at this ; but his man- 

* " M^. Canning wrote ' The fight has been hard, but it is won ; the 


tie has not descended upon any of his successors, and 
now that Lord Palmerston has gone, none of our states- 
men, or rather politicians, would commit such an act of 
rudeness for the world. The leading idea of Canning 
and of Palmerston was how best to extend the com- 
merce and influence of their country; — slightly dif- 
ferent from present notions. 

In this case England has once more proved no 
match for her Transatlantic offspring ; the same farce 
was enacted at Greytown which had been previously 
carried out at Panama^, where John Bull was allowed 
to spend his money; to discuss the best routes be- 
tween Chagres and Panama^, to test the distance by 
means of rockets, etc. etc. ; and, ultimately to read 
papers at the Eoyal Geographical Society. He was 
even allowed — and so was France, for that matter — to 
obtain concessions for carrying out the work ; but so 
soon as Brother Jonathan thought it expedient, the 
poor old gentleman was rudely pushed on one side, 
while his more practical relative took possession -of the 
ground, and in less than half the time spent in talk- 
ing about the importance of the work, actually built 
between the two oceans an excellent railway, which 
has subsequently earned for its enterprising proprietors 
an average dividend of over 25 per cent. 

As it was at Panama^, so it has been on the Mos- 
quito Coast, save and except that in the former case 

deed is done, the nail is driven, Spanish-America is free, and. if we do 
not mismanage our matters sadly, she is English.' Again, • Behold the 
New World established, and, if we do not throw it away, ours.' " — 
Canning and Ms Times. 


superior energy, enterprise, and intelligence won the 
day, and, it must be admitted, most deservedly ; but 
in the latter, diplomacy and intrigue ; alternate bully- 
ing and cajolery ; fraud and deceit ; petty aggression 
and retaliation ; the whole culminating in wanton out- 
rage and undignified submission, — have characterized 
the efforts which have been and are still being made 
to open this route. 






" Greytown," said the king, " has been a thorn in 
the side of Mosquito ever since the first habitation 
was erected there by Mr. Shepherd, in 1824." The 
king was right; year by year its importance as a 
port of entry to Nicaragua, and then as a terminal 
harbour for a great Transit, became better understood, 
and to the prominence thus given is due all its subse- 
quent troubles. Instigated by the Americans,* the 
first overt act against its peace was committed by the 

* "The principles by which I have been regulated in the negotiation 
of this Treaty are in accordance with the sentiments well expressed by 
my immediate predecessor on the 10th February, 1847, when he com- 
municated to the Senate the Treaty with New Granada for the pro- 
tection of the railroad at Panama. It is in accordance with the whole 
spirit of the resolution of the Senate of the 3rd of March, 1835, 
referred to by President Polk, and with the policy adopted by President 
Jackson (immediately after the passage of that resolution), who dis- 



Mcaraguans under a Colonel Quijano, who in 1836 
took the place by surprise from the few unarmed and 
unprepared English settlers and Mosquito men resid- 
ing there. 

Colonel Macdonald, superintendent of Belize, then 
appeared on the scene; and not only summarily ejected 
the intruders, but conveyed Colonel Quijano to another 
part of the coast; he had hardly, however, returned 
to Belize before the Mcaraguans again took possession 
of the Port, and this time they were allowed to re- 
main until the question had been referred to Eng- 
land ; when in due time Nicaragua was politely asked 
on what ground she claimed the locality. 

The question was perhaps difficult to answer, or 
some contempt may have been felt for so meek a me- 
thod of handling the matter, and this may account for 
the delay of some years during which it remained 
in abeyance ; the King of Mosquito at last lost all 
patience, and gave notice that he would only wait 
until the expiration of a certain time before repos- 
sessing himself of Greytown. This intimation having 
been treated with contempt, the king was as good as 
his word and reoccupied the place ; but no sooner was 
the town once more left to itself than, emboldened by 
the past, down came the Mcaraguans, and again 

patched an agent to Central America and New Granada, 'to open 
negotiations with those Governments for the purpose of effectually 
protecting, by suitable Treaty stipulations with them, such individuals 
or companies as might undertake to open a communication between 
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by the construction of a Ship-Canal 
across the Isthmus which connects North and South America.'" 
(President Z. Taylor's message to the Senate, 22nd April, 1850.) 


hoisted their flag in Greytown. This occurred on the 
9th of January, 1848. 

It now became an imperative necessity to put a stop 
to such trifling, and accordingly Lord Palmerston 
notified his intentions to Nicaragua in unmistakable 
terms, and in the meantime H.M.SS. Alarm and Yixen 
were dispatched from Jamaica, permanently to rein- 
state the King of Mosquito in his rights. 

Unfortunately, this was not accomplished without 
bloodshed. The Mcaraguans having seized two of- 
ficers in official position at Greytown, conveyed them 
into the interior, for safe custody, as the British 
approached, it therefore became necessary to pursue 
the retreating forces up the river San Juan. This was 
done by Captain Loch and Commander Ryder, at the 
head of 260 officers and men in twelve boats, viz. 24 
officers, 130 seamen, 30 marines, and 70 soldiers of 
the 38th Eegiment, piloted by two canoes with two 
Indians in each. 

With this force, on the 12th of February, 1848, the 
JSTicaraguans were overtaken at a famous strategical 
point where the Seripiqui empties itself into the San 
Juan. Here they had erected six angular stockaded 
entrenchments., eight feet high and four feet thick, and 
their guns completely swept the long reach by which 
the point is approached; nevertheless, the attacking 
force, in spite of a current against them, running nearly 
five miles an hour, and the exposure to a galling fire 
for one hour and forty minutes, during which fifteen of 
their number were killed and wounded, and the boats 
riddled with shot, succeeded, ten minutes after landing, 

z 2 


in driving an equal nnmbor of their opponents into 
the woods. The stockades were afterwards razed to 
the ground, the gnns thrown into the river, and the 
muskets and ammunition, thrown away by the retreat- 
ing Mcaraguans, destroyed. 

After this skirmish the force pushed on to San 
Carlos, a strong fort at the point where the Lake 
of Nicaragua discharges its waters into the San Juan; 
this place also was taken, and thus the entire control 
of the river obtained. From San Carlos to Granada 
is nearly 100 miles, and to the latter place, a city 
containing about 11,000 inhabitants, Captain Loch 
proceeded, with two boats, leaving the main body of 
his force at San Carlos. Commissioners were sent from 
Leon to treat with him, and these gentlemen finding 
that the Gordian knot of the difficulty had been effec- 
tually cut with the sword, quickly arranged the diffe- 
rences by a treaty so worded as to stop any further 
Filibuster attempt on Mosquito. 

This most successful expedition was carried through 
in thirty-five days. On the 8th of February, 1848, a 
month after the piratical attack of Nicaragua, the 
British force arrived at Grey town. On the 12 th, the 
Mcaraguan troops were overtaken and dispersed on 
their own ground, and with such circumstances in 
their favour as ought to have enabled them to an- 
nihilate ten times the number of their pursuers. On 
the 19 th, Fort San Carlos was taken, and on the fol- 
lowing day an officer was dispatched thence to Leon, 
the Capital of the State. On the 1st March that offi- 
cer returned to San Carlos, having performed his task 

Chap. XXI.— B. P.] SHARP WORK. 341 

in a most satisfactory manner. Captain Loch himself 
then proceeded to Granada and made his own terms. 
The Mcaraguan Commissioners met him on the 5th, 
and finding him firm and decided, signed the treaty, 
which was agreed to the same evening by the Con- 
stituent Assembly at Managua. During the night the 
prisoners were returned with the stolen flags of Mos- 
quito, and the ratified treaty followed early the next 
morning (8th). Captain Loch and his twenty or thirty 
officers and men left Granada the same evening, arrived 
at San Carlos on the llth, and re-embarked on board 
their ships at Greytown on the 13th, finally leaving 
for Jamaica the following day. 

The reader will observe that the Spanish American 
can act promptly on occasion, in spite of the national 
predilection for manana and poco tiempo. 

Those who know the country, the nature of the 
people, the extreme difficulty of ascending a tortuous 
river against a strong current, and no less than five 
dangerous rapids, can well appreciate this spirited 
vindication of national honour; indeed the expedi- 
tion will compare favourably with that lately under- 
taken in Abyssinia for a somewhat similar object, 
which would have been carried out in an equally 
prompt, energetic, and economical manner, had the 
Lord Palmerston of 1848 been in power. 

Captain Loch's action settled the status of the 
Mosquito question, which was now, under American 
influence, removed to the region of " diplomacy and 
intrigue," the nature of which will be best understood 
by the following extracts : — 



Mr. Crampton to Viscount Mr. Crampton to Viscount 
Palmerston. Palmerston. 

" Washington, 1 7th 
September, 1849. 

"Mr. Clayton having re- 
quested me to call upon him 
at the Department of State, 
said that he wished to con- 
verse with me frankly and 
confidentially upon the sub- 
ject of the proposed passage 
across the Isthmus, by way 
of Nicaragua and the river 
San Juan. 

"He (Mr. Clayton) pro- 
ceeded to read to me a portion 
of the instructions which have 
been given to Mr. Squier, 
who has been lately sent as 
U.S. Charge <T Affaires to 
Nicaragua. By these, Mr. 
Squier is directed not only not 
to negotiate any Treaty with 
that Government on the sub- 
ject of a passage across the 
Isthmus, but not to give his 
support or countenance to any 
contract entered into by pri- 
vate citizens of the United 
States with Nicaragua on 
that subject, of an exclusive 
nature. " 

" Washington, \hth 

October, 1849. 

" Mr. Clayton yesterday in- 
formed me that he had re- 
ceived intelligence from Mr. 
Squier, the U.S. Minister, 
lately sent to Nicaragua, that 
Mr. Squier had, in the early 
part of last month, concluded 
a Treaty with that State re- 
garding the construction of 
an Interoceanic Canal across 
the territory, . . . which 
Mr. Clayton informs me was 
drawn up under the supervi- 
sion of Mr. Squier." . . . 

11 With regard to the allu- 
sion made by Mr. Squier to 
Mr. Monroe's doctrine re- 
specting the colonization of 
any part of the American 
continent by a European 
power, Mr. Clayton remarked 
that the present administra- 
tion of the United States in 
no way adopted that princi- 
ple, and that Mr. Squier was 
not instructed to make any 
allusion to it in his commu- 
nications with the Nicara- 

guan Government."* 

* ■ Correspondence with the United States concerning Central Ame- 
rica,' published 1856. See also 'Colonial Magazine,' no. lxxxiii. 
Nov. 1850, pp. 433-486, for a descriptive account of Mr. Squier. 
Italics are by the Author. 

Chap. XXI.-B. P.] MR. SQUIER. 343 

In the meantime, while their Government intrigued, 
certain American capitalists were quietly but deter- 
minedly pursuing their object, namely, the monopoly 
of a transit through Nicaragua, which they succeeded 
in opening, and would have made permanent and far 
superior to that by way of Panama, had it not been 
for their own dissensions and the distracted state of 
the country. 

They soon found that it was impracticable to carry 
out the original project for which they had obtained a 
concession ; namely, the construction of a Ship Canal 
between the oceans; but under cover of it, they 
started a so-called " Accessory Company," ostensibly 
to pave the way for the grander scheme ; but really, 
by skilfully using the natural advantages afforded 
by the Eiver and Lake, via Grey town and Virgen 
Bay, to secure the traffic between New York and 
California. This was accomplished, and resulted in 
even greater pecuniary advantages than had been 
anticipated; but the project originated under false 
pretences, and the fiction of making a Ship Canal 
having been played out, the proprietors themselves 
began to quarrel ; one section openly bearing the stock 
with a view to buying it cheap, and thus obtaining the 
control. The port dues were then refused to the local 
authorities at Greytown, and the squabble over that 
point nearly brought England and America into colli- 
sion. Finally the Government of the United States 
stepped in, and demanded reparation from the citizens 
of Greytown for alleged insults to an ex- American Mi- 
nister; he had witnessed, it is even said encouraged, a 


brutal murder within the jurisdiction of Greytown, 
and counselled resistance to the civic authorities, for 
which, on his landing there, an indignant fellow- 
countryman threw a bottle at his head. The Com- 
pany's agent also complained that a thief in the em- 
ploy of the Company was sheltered by the municipal 
authorities. So that by levying port dues to maintain 
order; — by the unwonted virtuous indignation of an 
American citizen, as shown by throwing a bottle at an 
aider and abettor of murder ; — and, by not arresting 
a supposed thief belonging to the Transit Company, 
— the unfortunate Common Council of Greytown 
brought about the destruction of their town. 

The cash equivalent for these delinquencies was 
assessed at £5000, and the United States corvette 
Cyane, Commander Hollins, who had received orders 
"that his authority should not be so exercised as to 
show any mercy to the town or people," was sent to 
Greytown, to destroy it. 

Commander Hollins opened fire on the defence- 
less town at 10 a.m. on the 13th July, 1854; 
but after six hours' constant discharge of shot and 
shell, the gallant officer found that but little impres- 
sion had been made on the buildings, and therefore 
ordered a detachment on shore to set fire to the 
houses, which, being built entirely of wood, in a 
couple of hours presented to the view nothing but a 
heap of smoking ruins. The perpetrators of this 
honourable act completed the parallel between them- 
selves and wild Indians by committing* various in- 

* ' Gate of the Pacific/ pp. 234-5. 

Chap. XXL— B. P.] U.S.S. CYANE AND C.S.S. ALABAMA. 345 

decencies upon the Mosquito flag for having a Union 
Jack in its upper canton, and upon the English flag 
itself for being mixed up with that of Mosquito. 

This act was followed by the usual " bullying and 
cajolery," but no redress has been obtained to this 
day. The pecuniary loss has never been recovered, 
but a salve has been administered to the wounded feel- 
ings of those interested by a contemplation of the pro- 
ceedings of the Alabama ; which vessel, without de- 
stroying any defenceless town of the United States, 
inflicted a righteous retribution on that Great Nation 
for the part it bore in the ruin and misery with which 
Greytown was visited by its orders. 

The subsequent history of the place has been that 
of disorder, turmoil, and bloodshed, so constant as 
to be utterly incompatible with its commercial re- 
covery or even the steady continuance of the transit. 
The rival parties have not only themselves fought out 
their quarrel to its bitter end, but have contrived 
to drag all the Central American States into it. They 
have instigated a very bloody revolution in Nicaragua 
which led to an eruption of filibusters, thus bringing 
its nationality to the very verge of destruction ; and, 
finally, under pretence of improving, they have ma- 
naged most effectually to destroy a great high-road 
into the interior of the country ; I mean the river San 
Juan, by hastening the silting up of its lower arm and 
harbour, so that what was, twenty years ago, a navi- 
gable channel and excellent seaport, is now a mere 
driblet and shallow lagoon. Such has Greytown now 
become by a policy disgraceful at once to the age and 


to common sense, and alike injurious to the interests 
of all concerned. 

The Monroe doctrine has been the fruitful source 
of all these troubles, a doctrine which is one of the 
most glaring anomalies of the nineteenth century, and 
doubly so when adopted by such smart people as the 
Americans, who surely when the lease of their Spanish 
American neighbours falls in, and that must take 
place before long, would prefer to come into the 
property in good order and in a prosperous condition, 
rather than find nine-tenths of it a virgin forest, the 
towns in ruins, and the people rapidly disappearing, a 
prey to anarchy, ignorance, bigotry, and vice, such as 
Bolivar declared would soon bring upon them the con- 
tempt of the world, and render their country not worth 
either conquest or annexation. 

Who can doubt the immense spur to industry, com- 
mercial prosperity, and enlightenment which would 
arise from the opening of a transit from ocean to ocean 
through each of the following states? — Mexico via 
Vera Cruz, Mexico City, and Acapulco, or Mazatlan ; 
Guatemala via the Gulf of Dulce, Motagua, Guate- 
mala City, and San Jose* ; Honduras via Omoa, Coma- 
yagua, and Gulf of Fonseca ; Nicaragua via Pirn's 
Bay, the Lake, and San Juan del Sur ; Costa Eica via 
Limon, Cartago, San Jos£, and Punta Arenas. 

Yet every attempt to carry out either the one or 
the other of these schemes only seems to bring ruin 
and desolation instead of peace and plenty. And 
whence does this arise ? I answer, without fear of 
contradiction, from the fratricidal hand of the big 


Northern brother, blinded by what would be a wicked 
were it not a ridiculously silly doctrine, which per- 
mits the # guilt of murder (Maximilian's for example), 
the most reckless profligacy and crime, a reign of 
chaos, and the return of a magnificent country to its 
primeval state, rather than allow other nations to assist 
in turning the tide in an opposite direction. 

Before saying good-bye to Greytown (for I shall 
not take the old ' Gorgon ' back again), I may as well 
mention the reason why that port still maintains any 
vitality. It is owing to india-rubber ; and india-rub- 
ber has been its salvation. India-rubber trees grow 
in groups all over the country, especially on the banks 
of the rivers and creeks ; and as sugar is to the West 
Indies, so is india-rubber to Greytown. The export 
of that article, now rendered very valuable by the ex- 
tension of marine telegraphy, has kept the body and 
soul of Greytown together. 

India-rubber, "Ule" of the Creoles (or "Tassa" of 
the Mosquito Indians), the produce of Castilloa elastica, 
is now an important article of export all along the 
coast ; and Greytown is the principal port whence it 
is shipped. Expeditions for collecting india-rubber 
are organized by a number of men clubbing together, 
and applying to one of the dealers to furnish them 
with the necessary outfit, including provisions, blan- 
kets, machetes, axes, pans, pails, buckets, etc. They 
bind themselves before the local authorities to deliver 
to the dealer the produce of their work at a fixed 
price. This formality gone through, the men — or 
Uleros, as they are called — enter on a series of de- 


baucheries, dancing, drinking, and gambling, until the 
dealer intimates to them that their departure cannot 
be delayed any longer. All their traps are now em- 
barked, and under the blowing of conch-shells, cow- 
horns, and the shouts of friends, the canoes shove off 
laden to the water's edge. The men have often to 
paddle some distance before they arrive at their desti- 
nation, — passing great rapids, and being frequently 
compelled to unload their canoes and drag them along 
by sheer main force. When arrived at their goal, their 
first object is to build a hut to live in, beds being made 
on stages raised a few feet above ground. A shanty 
to w r ork under is also built, if possible, as close as 
practicable to the river, a great quantity of water 
being required in the manufacture of the rubber. 
After an early breakfast, the men go to work, each 
carrying a machete, a tin can capable of holding 
about five gallons, and one or two wooden pails. As 
soon as the Ulero has selected his tree, he clears the 
surrounding ground of underwood and the stems of 
vines and epiphytical plants, and makes a ladder by 
tying pieces of cane two feet long to some of the 
tough vines about an inch and a half in diameter 
hanging from the tree. All this preliminary work 
gone through, the Ulero cuts diagonal channels in 
the bark of the tree, first from his right side, then 
from his left, so that both meet in the middle. At 
the bottom of the lowest channel an iron spout, 
about four inches long and two inches wide, is driven, 
underneath which a pail is put. By the time he 
has done cutting channels he has to hurry down, 

Chap. XXI.— B. P.J INDIA-RUBBER. 349 

his pail being now qnite full of milk from the tree, 
which has to be emptied into the larger vessels, in 
which it is carried to the workshop. A tree four 
feet in diameter and -twenty to thirty feet to the 
first branches will yield twenty gallons of milk, each 
gallon producing two pounds, and if rich, two pounds 
two ounces of good dried rubber. An industrious 
man is able to obtain about twenty-five gallons 
of milk a day. In the evening the milk is pressed 
through a wire sieve, so as to exclude all the im- 
purities, before it is put into the barrels. When the 
barrels are full, the real manufacture of the rubber 
commences. This is generally intrusted to the most 
skilful of the party. The best manner of converting 
the milk into rubber is by mixing with it the juice 
of a certain vine, termed " Achuca " by the natives, 
which has the singular property of coagulating it within 
the space of five minutes. This vine, which is con- 
jectured by Dr. Seemann to be an Apocynea, generally 
abounds in the woods, and has fine large white flowers 
like a convolvulus. Bundles of it are collected, and 
each stick is well beaten with a piece of wood, and 
soaked in water, which is strained through a cloth, 
and about a pint of it is well mixed with every 
gallon of the milk. This is done in a large tin pan, 
in which it coagulates quickly, forming a soft mass 
floating in a brown fluid, and smelling like fresh 
cheese. This mass is slightly pressed by hand, 
placed on a board, and then rolled out with a piece 
of heavy wood. An iron roller 150 pounds in weight 
has been used with advantage for this purpose. By 


this operation a great quantity of dark brown water 
is squeezed out, and the rubber, which has now as- 
sumed its elasticity, is in flat round pieces of a quar- 
ter to an eighth of an inch thick by twenty inches 
in diameter, and perfectly white. The weight of one 
of these pieces (' tortillas ' the men call them) is about 
seven pounds. The tortillas are hung up in a shed 
on poles to dry, which in fair weather takes about a 
fortnight ; the rubber assumes then its dark colour, and 
weighs two pounds a piece. If the " Achuca " is not to 
be had in the neighbourhood, two third-parts of water 
are mixed with one-third of the extracted milk in a 
barrel, and this has to remain undisturbed for twelve 
hours ; after this time the water is slowly discharged, 
and the residuum — a dark cream — is put in vats made 
in the ground, and left to dry ; the drying process 
taking from twelve to fourteen days. 

As mentioned in the preceding chapter, the stay of 
the king at Greytown was very brief ; there were, in 
fact, many reasons why it should not be prolonged; 
and, accordingly, we once more left that " weeping" 
locality for Blewfields. u Ah ! " said the king, when 
we were fairly under weigh, " I breathe more freely 
as we leave that detestable place behind. I go there 
as seldom as possible, and always depart with delight ; 
nevertheless, if you really think that you can do any- 
thing to advance the interests of my poor country by 
means of a transit, pray try; but I am heartily sick 
of the subject, and have no faith in any such specula- 
tion. The Nicaraguans will only endeavour to make 
capital out of you ; the Yankees will certainly oppose 

Chap. XXL— B. P.] PIM's BAY. 351 

you, while your own countrymen will desert you in 
the hour of need, just as they have served me in the 
new treaty about to be concluded." (See Appendix.) 

" Well, King," said I, " there can be no doubt of 
the great advantage of opening a new route through 
Mosquito and Nicaragua. So let us have a look at 
my proposed Atlantic terminus, under Monkey Point, 
which even the treaty you speak of still leaves in your 

It so happened that when we started from Grey- 
town a norther was blowing, which increased in vio- 
lence as we advanced to the northward ; so that ample 
opportunity was afforded for testing the security of 
the anchorage at Pirn's Bay, and its general adapta- 
bility for a great terminal port ; and certainly nothing 
could have been more satisfactory than the result. 
The ship lay completely sheltered from the violence of 
the wind, while the surface of the bay was perfectly 

But I must give a short account of this locality, 
destined, I hope, to be one of these days the site of a 
thriving town, the entrepot of a considerable commerce 
and the terminus of a great transit. 

On this coast the harbours are subject to two serious 
drawbacks, first, the periodical recurrence of northers, 
which blow with great violence, and, second, the ac- 
cumulation of alluvial deposits brought down by the 
rivers, which have in the course of time turned the 
once noble harbours of Cape Gracias, Pearl Cay, Blew- 
fields, and Greytown into shallow lagoons. Neither 
of these drawbacks affect " Pirn's Bay ; " it is entirely 


sheltered from the northers, and as only a couple of 
rivulets empty themselves into its capacious bosom, 
it is not likely ever to be silted up. Indeed, the place 
seems formed by nature to become a great port ; it has 
an area of some thousands of acres, and its depth 
ranges from twelve to twenty -four feet over the 
greater portion of its surface. There are two cays off 
the eastern point, which, if joined to the mainland by 
an inexpensive breakwater, would make the best part 
of it completely landlocked. Certainly no other port 
exists on the coast with such advantages, or so admi- 
rably adapted for the object in view. 

Of course we landed and roamed about, filled up 
our tanks with pure and wholesome water, cut about 
twenty tons of wood to replenish our failing stock of 
fuel, and by means of the seine obtained for the ship's 
company an ample supply of fish. A party of officers 
made an excursion inland, and very nearly shared the 
fate of Lieutenant Strain on the Isthmus of Darien ; 
in fact, they completely lost themselves, although only 
two miles from the ship, and would probably have 
paid dearly for the folly of venturing, without com- 
pass or guide, into the dense forest, had it not been 
for the king's extraordinary knowledge of woodcraft, 
which enabled him to find and rescue them just as 
they were on the verge of despair. One of the officers 
told me that their greatest dread was of snakes, with 
which they had been told that the country swarmed ; 
in point of fact, however, they had seen none, but 
even if they had, these reptiles never assume the of- 
fensive if it is possible to avoid it. In all my extensive 

Chap. XXL— B. P.] SNAKE YARNS. 353 

travels in Central America, I have not seen more 
snakes than I conld comit on my fingers, and these, as 
a general rule, were only too eager to escape. There 
are several species of snakes, many of them venomous 
beyond doubt ; of these, it is especially undesirable to 
tread on the toboba, the corral, or the barber' s-pole ; 
the bite of either causes almost certain death. The 
only fatal case, however, which ever came to my per- 
sonal knowledge, was that of a poor negro. While 
shooting in the woods, he trode upon one of these 
reptiles, felt a slight prick on his ankle, looked down, 
and saw one of the most deadly gliding away. Unfor- 
tunately he lost his presence of mind for a few pre- 
cious minutes, during which the poison had time to 
circulate ; then, when it was too late, he cut out the 
surrounding flesh, and, in addition, poured the powder 
from his flask into the wound and ignited it, blowing 
away the greater part of the ankle. But the only effect 
was to give him a few days' respite. 

I well remember the first snake I ever saw in Cen- 
tral America was an enormous toboba, coiled up in a 
half-sleeping state, basking under the broiling sun in the 
middle of the road leading to Leon. Fortunately the 
" correo," my companion, saw the reptile in time to 
avoid a collision ; for, had it been trodden upon, the 
consequences would have been fatal to the unfortunate 
aggressor. The snake was probably very drowsy, for 
it was in no hurry to leave its dusty bed and allow us 
to pass, but it did not show the slightest disposition 
to attack us ; it was, perhaps, aware that we had no 
gun or other weapon wherewith to injure it. How- 

2 A 


ever, after shouting for some time with no effect, we 
took to throwing stones and sticks at it, upon which 
its great coils deliberately opened out, and it slowly 
glided into the forest. 

On another occasion I saw a smaller but no less 
deadly member of the same species ; it was on the 
banks of the San Juan, in the hands of my faithful 
Simon (a Carib), who had just landed from my canoe 
to make a fire and cook our breakfast. Simon allowed 
the creature to coil round him, and commenced talk- 
ing to it in his musical language, holding the head 
close to his face. Presently he put it gently on the 
ground, when it slowly made its way into the adja- 
cent undergrowth. I gave Simon a good blowing-up 
for letting the brute escape, but he told me that he 
was a snake doctor, and that had he inflicted the 
slightest injury on it, his influence would have been 
at an end for ever. 

I was once very considerably startled through a 
snake, though not by the reptile itself. Seated on a 
log, weary and hungry, waiting for my dinner, at the 
Machuca Eapid, I observed a most repulsive -looking 
negro, with scarred and seamed face, his eyeballs start- 
ing out of his head, stealthily creeping towards me, 
with his machete (short sword) in his hand. I was 
quite unarmed, but most fortunately did not stir, and 
as he approached, I luckily noticed that he was not 
looking at me, but downwards on the ground. My 
eyes involuntarily followed his, and there was a snake, 
which had just passed over my boot, leisurely wrig- 
gling away. Quick as thought the negro gave two 

Chap. XXL— B. P.] SNAKE DOCTORS. 35-5 

sharp cuts with his machete, putting it out of the 
power of the " barber's pole V to injure any one. 
This snake is very poisonous and ready to bite on the 
smallest provocation, and there is no doubt that had 
I moved in the least, I should have paid the full 

I mention my snake experience here because I am 
anxious to disabuse the public mind of the popular 
error that Mosquito swarms with venomous snakes ; 
such is not the case, neither has the prevailing idea 
that the climate is deadly any foundation in truth ; an 
intimate acquaintance has convinced me that in both 
cases proper precautions will go far to ensure im- 
punity. While on this subject, I must give a recipe 
for the cure of snake bites* much used in India; 
indeed, in the Bombay Presidency, it has been ordered 
to be kept ready at every police station. But, after 
all, pigs and fowls are the best protection the settler 
can .have ; these creatures are as deadly enemies to 
the snake in the clearings as the warry and peccary 
are to it in the dense forest. 

Nevertheless, I have tried very hard to discover the 
snake doctors' secret, but without success ; one thing 
is certain, that the decoction of a leaf is drunk, chewed, 
used as a poultice, and even swallowed. I suspect the 

# Liquor Ammonise Portis.— Doses : Por an adult, 35 drops in 
a wineglassful of water; twelve to fifteen years old, 20 to 25 drops in 
a full half ditto ; eight to twelve years old, 15 to 20 drops in a small 
half ditto; four to eight years old, 10 to 15 drops in a full quarter 
ditto ; infants to four years old, 3 to 10 drops in a full quarter ditto. 

Besides snake bites, this remedy has been found to be a cure for 
hydrophobia in its worst form. 

2 a2 


plant is the "achuca," the same as that employed for 
solidifying the milk of the india-rubber-tree, but on 
this point I cannot be positive. Certain it is that 
the remedy is vegetable, and no doubt a careful search 
by a scientific traveller would reveal the secret and con- 
fer a lasting benefit, not only upon the inhabitants of 
tropical America, but upon those of every part of the 
globe where snakes do congregate; for, so far as is 
known at present, the poison of a snake in the old 
world does not materially differ from that of those in 
the new, but even on this point there is still much to 
be learned. 

But to return from this snake digression to the 
final voyaging of the ' Gorgon ' on the Mosquito coast. 

After a short but very pleasant sojourn at Pirn's 
Bay, we once more came-to before the " Bluff," and 
after landing the King and wishing our friends good- 
bye, finally started on the homeward bound voyage, 
arriving at Portsmouth in due course. 

And now I must bid adieu to the friends and com- 
panions of my first visit to the Mosquito coast. The 
least I can say of them is that it would be hard for 
any captain to find a more excellent set of officers ; 
from the senior to the junior it was the same, and 
although, according to the " custom of the service," 
we have since been widely separated, I maintain the 
most cordial feeling of esteem for them all, and trust 
they have kept a small space in their recollection for 
one who must ever take a warm interest in their 






When we sailed from Jamaica, our stay on the Mos- 
quito coast was looked forward to with anything but 
pleasure ; the feeling was rather one of dread, and at 
that time the mere chance of escape from sojourning 
in such a climate and country would have been hailed 
with delight. But a short time sufficed to show how un- 
deserved was the abuse which had been lavished upon 
it, and so far from rejoicing, it was with real regret 
that my announcement of departure was received. 

And here I must take the opportunity, while bidding 
a sort of official adieu to Mosquito, of mentioning how 
it came to pass that so different a feeling prevailed 
from that anticipated. I have never been to any part 
of the world so bad that it might not be made to 
appear much worse by a disposition to gloom and de- 
spondency on the part of those whose fate led them 


there. My officers, although better young men never 
set foot on a ship's deck, started in this spirit, firmly 
believing the reports in circulation, that both country 
and climate were execrable, and that they would be 
fortunate to escape with life, at the cost of shattered 
health. It was my business to dissipate these fears ; 
and I happily succeeded in doing so, without in any 
way detracting from the discipline and efficiency of 
the ship, by quietly proving the falsehood of the re- 
port, in the comfort and happiness of those under my 
charge. This was done by what is technically called 
" keeping the devil out of the men's minds," not, as is 
only too common, by incessant exercise aloft and con- 
stant gun-drill, although in our case duty was never 
neglected, but by moderate leave on shore and prac- 
tically useful excursions,* shooting-parties, hauling 
the seine as often as possible; surveying, wooding, 
and watering, so that constant employment, both on 
and off duty, was thus afforded. When, therefore, we 
had landed the King, and bade adieu to Mosquito, it 
was with feelings of universal regret that we looked 
back upon its fading •? Shore." 

But although none of my companions have since re- 
visited the Mosquito coast (so far at least as I am 
aware), it has not been so with me ; my destiny has 
led me again and again to that familiar locality, bent 
on filling its empty anchorages with shipping ; on re- 
claiming its fruitful soil ; on spanning the intervening 

* For the account of an interesting excursion up the river San Juan 
and across Lake Nicaragua to Managua, see ' Gate of the Pacific,' pp. 

Chap. XXII.— B.P.] EAELY EFFORTS. 359 

land between the oceans with the iron-road ; and on 
founding a commercial entrepot on the Caribbean Sea ; 
with what success will be seen in the following pages. 

A descriptive account of my original transit project 
will be found in the l Gate of the Pacific ;' and, there- 
fore, it now remains only to draw the attention of 
those curious in these matters to my subsequent pro- 
ceedings in furtherance of the enterprise. 

The concession from the King of Mosquito was 
obtained in December, 1859, and formed the basis of 
future operations : at the same time the freehold of 
Pirn's Bay and of the cays was purchased, so as to se- 
cure the Atlantic terminus. 

In 1860, I made the first journey into the interior ; 
and, though my explorations were necessarily limited, 
the general result was confirmatory of the feasibility 
of the plan proposed. Aided by the experience gained 
on this expedition, and that acquired by many years' 
previous service on the coast of Central America, I 
wrote my book, ' The Gate of the Pacific,' which was 
ready for publication at the end of 1862. By means 
of this book, the matter was introduced to the public 
early in 1863, and the transit through Mosquito and 
Nicaragua brought before the Emperor Napoleon. 
The subject was a favourite one with his Majesty; 
and I can safely say that I received from him, even in 
the then embryonic state of my project, more encou- 
ragement (in spite of the well-known French predilec- 
tion for canals) than from any one else. I was ac- 
corded a most flattering reception, and found the Em- 
peror thoroughly well informed on even minute details ; 


and, through the Due de Bassano, I was introduced, 
by his Majesty's orders, to certain leading French 
capitalists. The idea of a canal, however, was para- 
mount, and therefore the practical support I had hoped 
for was not forthcoming. 

(I see that the Nicaraguan Congress has just ratified 
a canal concession (March, 1869), in favour of the 
celebrated Monsieur Chevalier, of Paris ; I trust he 
may meet with more success in the thorny path he 
has chosen than has fallen to my lot.) 

In March, 1863, I went to Nicaragua, accompanied 
by two civil engineers, to make a thorough ex- 
amination of the nature of the country intervening 
between the Atlantic and the Great Lake. A road 
was cut through the dense primeval forest, with great 
labour and expense (a large force of Indians and 
Caribs having been employed), for about eighty miles 
from Pirn's Bay towards the lake, the section of which 
fully confirmed the practicability of the projected route, 
and proved that none of the insurmountable physical 
difficulties which had been foretold had any existence 
in reality. 

While the survey was progressing, I endeavoured 
to supplement the concession from the King of Mos- 
quito, already in my possession, by another from the 
Government of Nicaragua ; but in this respect I was 
doomed to disappointment. Not only was Nicaragua 
at war with the neighbouring republic of San Salvador, 
but a revolution had broken out, threatening the most 
disastrous consequences ; so that it was quite out of 
the question to do more than merely open negotiations 
with the Government. 


Pending the meeting of Congress, I returned to 
England with my expedition, and read a descriptive 
account of our proceedings before the geographical 
and mathematical sections of the British Association 
at Newcastle, in August of that year. 

In the following October (1863), I again left Eng- 
land for Nicaragua, this time quite alone. Arrived 
in the country, with the help of some Caribs, who have 
served me with great fidelity ever since, in spite of 
the hardships and dangers encountered in my ser- 
vice, I succeeded in adding extensively to the topo- 
graphical knowledge of the interior of Nicaragua ; and 
when Congress met in February, 1864, I had the ad- 
ditional good fortune to obtain a concession which was 
passed by both chambers and approved by the Presi- 
dent, granting me the right to open a transit on the 
route I proposed. 

With this concession # I lost no time in returning to 
England, where I arrived in June ; but I soon found 
that its terms were not sufficiently favourable to 
tempt capitalists to embark their money in an under- 
taking based upon the conditions it contained. And 
here, I may remark, in parenthesis, that I now began 
to learn how incompatible are business transactions 
in which money is concerned with patriotic notions 
of progress, or with ideas of advancing national pro- 
sperity by the extension of its commerce. The main 
thought with men of business is how much a scheme 
will yield to them, and to this standard every enter- 

* The full text is published in the Appendix to l The Isthmus of 
Panama.' Chapman and Hall. 


prise must bow in the nineteenth century ; when 
assuredly, if the money prospects are good, it will be 
adopted, whether it tends to promote national interests 
or the reverse. 

In November, 1864, 1 was again en route for Central 
America, accompanied on this my fourth journey by the 
Consul-General for Nicaragua, a mining engineer of 
repute, and a well-known artist, Mr. George Chambers. 
My object was thoroughly to examine the mineral re- 
sources of the Chontales district, of which the most 
encouraging reports had been received. The results 
of this journey were important. 

In the first place, my concession received at the 
hands of Congress and the President certain amend- 
ments, tending greatly to improve it, although not to 
the extent desired (see Appendix). I also caused a 
road to be cut from the lake to overlap that portion 
left unfinished by my expedition of the previous year. 
And on going over it, I found that the section afforded 
as easy a gradient as that of the other part, and there- 
fore, practically, the entire feasibility of the route was 
proved. The explorations in Chontales also turned out 
satisfactorily, disclosing a very large amount of auri- 
ferous and argentiferous deposits in the district, only 
requiring capital and prudence in their development, 
to ensure a rich return. 

In May, 1865, I returned home once more, appa- 
rently with every prospect of a successful termination 
of my labours, but I speedily learned the truth of the 
adage, " There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the 
lip," for I found that neither the concession itself nor 


the section of the proposed line of railway surveyed 
with so much labour and expense was even yet per- 
fectly satisfactory. Besides this, the civil war waging 
in the " States," and the unsettled condition of politics 
at home, made it impossible to enlist the sympathy, 
far less the moral support, of the English Government, 
which, in spite of a treaty stipulation with Nicaragua, 
was rather inclined to throw cold water than other- 
wise on any attempt to compete with the Panama 
railroad, having, doubtless, the threatening shade 
of Mr. Monroe before its eyes. 

The journey of 1865 was not, however, altogether 
fruitless ; the report on the gold district was received 
with favour ; and a vigorous effort has since been 
made to develope a portion of it, proving beyond 
doubt that the mineral resources of Chontales are of 
no inconsiderable value.* 

The great panic of May, 1866, from which the na- 
tion is only now very slowly recovering, again threw 
my project back, just when I fondly hoped that all diffi- 
culties had been overcome; but, nevertheless, any 
idea of giving up in despair was not to be thought 
of, and, therefore, in November, 1866, a company, 
called the Nicaragua Railway Company, limited, with 
a capital of £1,000,000, was registered, and the pro- 
spectus laid before the public, asking for £450,000 to 
begin with. The shock to public confidence had, 

* While these pages were passing through the press, March, 1869, 
the worn-out old Spanish mining laws (Ordenanzas de las Minereas) of 
Nicaragua have been abolished, and comparatively free-trade in mining 


however, been too severe, and the application re- 
sulted in a response to the extent of only about one- 
fourth of the amount required. But certain overtures 
having in the meantime been received from New 
York capitalists, largely interested in Nicaraguan 
transit, I determined to go over to the United States, 
and see if the remaining capital could be obtained there. 
On Christmas Eve, 1866, I sailed for New York, but 
found there no solution of the financial difficulty. I 
was therefore compelled to advise my friends in Eng- 
land to that effect, so that the money subscribed might 
be returned in full, and the company wound up. 

Thus, after repeated disappointments, during seven 
years of infinite toil, hardship, and constant outlay, 
cheerfully undertaken in the hope of both increasing 
the facilities of transit, and adding to our commerce 
and progress, my transit project fell through, and the 
Mcaraguan Eailway Company, Limited, ceased to 
exist in July, 1868. 

Most assuredly, had the route been adopted, the 
Panama, New Zealand, and Australian Eoyal Mail 
Company would not now have been a thing of the 
past; nor would the future prospects of the Eoyal 
Mail Company itself have assumed so cheerless an 
aspect. These two instances alone out of many will 
serve to give a practical idea of the value and import- 
ance of the proposed route. 

Although unsuccessful with the capitalists alluded 
to above, I found others in New York interested in 
the question, and apparently as reluctant as myself to 
allow the concession to lapse. With the President of 

Chap. XXII.— B. P.] ME. W. H. WEBB. 365 

the Central American Transit Company, Mr. W. H. 
Webb (the American Laird), a gentleman highly re- 
spected in New York, terms were made, and it was 
arranged that one of the engineers I had employed in 
1863 should undertake to cut an entirely new road 
from the Lake of Nicaragua to the Atlantic, over 
which Mr. "Webb was to have the right of sending an 
American engineer, upon whose report should depend 
the further prosecution of the enterprise on the part of 
himself and his friends. 

In February, 1867, I left New York for Nicaragua. 
A new road was cut and levelled from the Lake to the 
Atlantic; the total distance between was 101 f miles, 
and the summit level was 748 feet ; while in other re- 
spects the great value of the undertaking was abun- 
dantly confirmed. But whether from the delay or from 
a change of Government, it is certain that no great 
encouragement was received from the authorities, and 
even the small boon of extending the concession for 
one year was but grudgingly yielded. Neither did 
Mr. Webb think it desirable to send an American en- 
gineer to inspect the newly-opened road ; so that on 
returning to New York — having, by the bye, been 
wrecked in one of Mr. Webb's ships, off the coast 
of New Jersey, on the way up (22nd May, 1867), 
— I got but scant comfort from my journey, espe- 
cially when it transpired that Mr. Webb would not 
move any further in the matter. I therefore re- 
turned to England, convinced at last how really un- 
grateful was the task I had undertaken. 

The plate opposite depicts one of the many inci- 


dents of hardship and difficulty inevitable in carrying 
on surveying operations in the dense primeval forests 
of a tropical country. I have called it the " Junc- 
tion of the Atlantic and Pacific," because on leaving 
the surveyors, after having penetrated about halfway 
across from the Pacific, and still cutting their road 
manfully through the thick undergrowth towards the 
Atlantic, I retraced my steps with the intention of 
starting to meet them from that side, and happily ac- 
complished my object after great exertions and en- 
during many hardships. The sketch by Lieutenant 
Oliver, E.A., who was one of the party, portrays the 
meeting or " Junction," which was of no small im- 
portance, as it enabled the half-starved surveyors to 
return and finish their work, with no fear, at all 
events, of a recurrence of empty larders. 

Soon after my return to England, the gentleman with 
whom I had originally hoped to arrange the carrying 
out of my plans, made overtures for the possession of 
the concession now extended for a year ; of course I 
cheerfully acceded to his terms, as a drowning man 
catches at a straw, transferring so far as I was con- 
cerned, my rights and privileges to him ; but to this 
hour he has not redeemed his obligations. Worse 
still, by a misplaced confidence, impediments have 
arisen in the way of the realization of the project 
which, I fear, are insurmountable. 

I have thought it desirable in the public interest, 
even at the risk of these details being voted dry and 
uninviting, briefly to enumerate the trials and diffi- 
culties necessarily incidental to every project of a like 


magnitude. I have done so, not with a view of dis- 
couraging any adventurous follower in my footsteps, 
but in order to prepare him for many disappointments 
and much labour, to say nothing of expense, before 
he can expect even a glimmer of success to cross the 
chequered path he has chosen. 

To bring my transit reminiscences up to this date, I 
may mention that, finding how impossible it was to 
form a company to carry out this great project, I made 
a flank movement, with the idea that Nicaragua ought 
herself to help in a work so very much to her benefit. 
Amongst her legislators there are many who see the 
matter in this light ; but unfortunately, in proportion 
to the diminutiveness of a country so is the division 
of opinion amongst its inhabitants, and Nicaragua is 
no exception to the rule. 

I had hoped to bring Mosquito and Nicaragua to- 
gether, so as to form a united State, and then to con- 
nect their interests still more firmly by a road, laid 
clown for the most part by immigrants, who, on proper 
encouragement, would have made the intervening coun- 
try between the oceans their home. By the simple 
act of acknowledgment on the part of Nicaragua of 
those claimants who had staked so much money upon 
the grants made to them by the former authorities of 
Mosquito, this could have been effected; and the 
joint enterprises of colonization and transit might then 
have been made with mutual advantage to travel har- 
moniously together. I paved the way for such a 
union by a public meeting at Blewfields (see Appen- 
dix), interesting if only from the fact that it was the 


first public meeting ever held by other than white 
men in that country. I afterwards (August, 1867) 
went into the matter most earnestly with the ex- 
President of Nicaragua, General Martinez, then on a 
special mission to this country, and gave him such an 
opportunity as seldom occurs to conclude the busi- 
ness ; but here again I was disappointed, as the con- 
dition upon which General Martinez, or rather his 
secretary, insisted was the cultivation by the occupiers 
of the land offered (2,000,000 acres) in five years, — 
a proposition inadmissible on my part, and a physical 
impossibility besides, even if every man, woman, and 
child in Nicaragua (about 100,000) engaged in the 
work with Anglo-Saxon vigour. There the matter 
rests at present, but I still cling to the hope of see- 
ing this highly-favoured land ultimately reclaimed 
and taking its proper position amongst nations. 

In the following chapters, I propose to give an ac- 
count of my journey up the Blewfields, the principal 
river in the Mosquito reservation, which in its chief 
features bears so strong a resemblance to the Eama 
and the Eio Grande that I feel absolved from any 
necessity of giving a detailed account of them. I have 
selected my Blewfields journey because it is the one 
most likely to convey useful information, pointing out, 
as it does, the easiest mode of reaching the mining 
district of Chontales, which is destined one of these 
days to rival that of the Brazils. 






There are several natural highways leading into the 
interior of Mosquito, — I mean its rivers, — which form 
quite a feature on the maps of the country. They 
take their rise in the chain of mountains which divide 
the watershed of the Atlantic from that of the Pa- 
cific ; and, although not navigable for more than about 
half their length, yet, looked at in conjunction with 
the extensive system of lagoons which lie parallel to 
the coast, and reach from Blewfields almost to Cape 
Gracias a Dios, they give to Mosquito, taking into 
consideration the limited extent of its area, an inland 
navigation, unrivalled on the entire continent. Cer- 
tainly no similar section of country on the Atlantic 
side of America, from the St. Lawrence to the Parana, 
not even excepting that containing the Mississippi, 
the Orinoco, or the Amazon, can boast such a perfect 
means of intercommunication between their river out- 

2 b 


lets, as that of the Blewfields or Escondido, the Great 
Biver, and the Wanks. 

As for the Pacific slope, there is hardly a river 
worthy the name on that side, the G uayaqnil being the 
only one in South America navigable for any distance ; 
while, to the northward of Panama, the Colorado, the 
Sacramento, and the Columbia, can only be considered 
very second-rate indeed, compared with those empty- 
ing themselves into the Atlantic. 

Taking a great interest in the question of " open- 
ing np " the country, I have paid some considerable 
attention to its river system, and have most carefully 
examined the rivers San Juan, Eama, and Blewfields, 
but it is a description of the latter only which I pro- 
pose giving in this place. 

The Blewfields river has many mouths, and the hur- 
ricane of 18G5 has not improved any of them, — in 
several, trees have been blown across or snagged, 
around which a mass of detritus has accumulated, form- 
ing in the first instance little islets, and ultimately 
blocking the passage. This, in the case of the smaller 
arms of the river, is not to be regretted, as by driving a 
larger body of water down the main outlet, the ten- 
dency will be to keep that at least, deep and open. 
But the best channel even is difficult to find without a 
good pilot, owing to the monotonous appearance of the 
mangrove bushes, which extend from the town of Blew- 
fields right across the river entrance, to the low neck of 
land connecting " the Bluff " with the mainland ; not a 
tree or mark of any sort relieves the sameness of their 
outline; and inasmuch as there are no end of little 


bays or openings in the bushes extending by a winding 
course a short distance only through the mud, the at- 
tempt to reach the main river, by those unacquainted 
with the navigation, is really most embarrassing. A 
good large whitewashed beacon on one side of the real 
entrance would save a deal of trouble, but that even 
will not be done until trade and population have 
largely increased. 

The bar is outside or to seaward of Cassava Cay, 
and runs somewhat in the shape of a horseshoe round 
from the cay, close to the inner beach of the bluff 
itself, about half a mile from the outer point. The 
many little sandy bays and promontories into which 
the bluff is broken up on the southern side, from its 
extremity seaward right into the lagoon, give it a very 
picturesque appearance, and would offer several safe 
landing places for boats or laden barges in the event 
of a seaport town springing up there ; indeed a more 
healthy or pleasant site for a town is not to be found on 
this coast. The soil is excellent, in striking contrast 
to that in the vicinity of Blewfields, and, by means of 
the Abyssinian well, an abundance of pure water could 
easily be obtained. 

At the present time there is from eight to ten feet 
of water on the bar, a depth which might easily be in- 
creased by judicious dredging, if thought desirable ; 
but inasmuch as the bar is seldom rough, in fact rarely 
breaks right across, unless the trade-wind is well to 
the eastward, there would be no necessity for taking 
this step for some time to come ; indeed, ships might 
lie much nearer the shore than they do at present with 

2 b2 


perfect safety, especially if heavy moorings were laid 
clown, to which they might make fast, instead of 
having to ride at single anchor as is now the case. 

I hope the day is not far distant when this beau- 
tiful spot will be dotted over with comfortable houses 
and pleasant gardens, well stocked with fruit and 
flowers, and with a flourishing trade to encourage im- 

From the bar to the main entrance of the river 
takes about half an hour in a boat. The beach all 
along is a low, sandy, somewhat swampy stretch, 
having a green capping, of a uniform height the entire 
distance, with not even a change in the foliage to 
break the monotony ; in fact, it looks like a well- 
trimmed English hedge, and it is not until the en- 
trance of the river is passed some little distance that 
mangroves give place to scrubby palms, interspersed 
here and there with large trees. 

It was at the end of April, 1867, that I ascended 
the river, a year and a half after the desolating hurri- 
cane which visited the coast on the night of the 18th 
and 19th October, 1865, if hurricane that can be 
called, which confined its devastation within such a 
limited track. 

The gale commenced in Blewfields Lagoon, on the 
18th of October, and by 8 p.m. the wind blew with 
great force, gradually veering from north to west, 
varied by squalls from all points of the compass ; 
the rain fell in a deluge. About ten, the violence of 
the storm was tremendous, — houses began to fall, and 
trees of the largest size were snapped asunder like 

Chap. XXIIL-B. P.] THE GEEAT STORM OF 1865. 373 

pipe-stems or laid low from their roots. People could 
not hear one another speak, although shouting to each 
other at the top of their voices ; the roar of the wind 
and the noise of the thunder (which seemed immedi- 
ately overhead) effectually drowning every other 

At Eama Cay, the natives asserted that they felt an 
earthquake, but this has not been confirmed by any 
other of the neighbouring inhabitants; the report 
was probably due to the terror and excitement pre- 
valent at such a time, with an uproar of the elements 
raging around enough to bring the heart of the stoutest 
man into his mouth. 

The southern end of Blewfields Lagoon appears to 
have been the limit of the storm in that direction. 
It did no damage whatever at Pirn's Bay, which is 
but a few miles further south. To the northward it 
nearly destroyed the town of Blewfields, leaving only 
the mission-houses, that of Mr. Green, the Consul, 
and six small dwellings or rather huts standing, and 
of the former the roof was blown away. Every- 
thing was laid low, boat-houses driven bodily away, 
and the good old craft, " Messenger of Peace" — 
in which I had made a most trying voyage from 
Greytown — capsized, filled with water, and tossed 
about like a cockle-shell, to the extreme indignation 
of her creole captain, who could never speak of the 
treatment his favourite then experienced without a 
strong ebullition of feeling. 

At Pearl Cay Lagoon, great damage was done; 
the church was unroofed and much injured ; the mis- 


sionary dwelling-house was destroyed, and the sur- 
rounding habitation levelled with the ground, while 
the Indian village on the shore of the lagoon was lite- 
rally washed away. 

But the cays, the most beautiful and picturesque 
cluster of islets imaginable, some of which were co- 
vered with cocoa-nut-trees in full bearing, others well 
laid out with cassava, etc., suffered the most severely. 
Poor Mr. Thompson, an American, and his whole 
family, to whom several cays belonged, and about, 
whom I have written elsewhere, were swept away 
and perished. Of the cays themselves, the greater 
number were levelled with the sea. 

Wounta Haulover, the northernmost range of the 
storm, and also the northern limit of the Moravian 
Mission, on the Mosquito coast, is about ninety miles 
distant from Blewfields. Beyond this the gale does 
not appear to have been felt. 

Inland, as I shall presently describe, I traced the 
effects of the storm about thirty miles as the crow 
flies ; and it blew with great violence at Corn Islands, 
about thirty miles from the coast. At the latter place 
considerable damage was done, especially amongst the 
breadfruit-trees, but not comparable with the devas- 
tation on the mainland. 

To give some idea of the force of the wind, I may 
mention that the large boat* I had presented to the 
mission some time before, happened to be at Corn 
Islands when the gale came on. She is more than 

* Christened the " Susanna," after Mrs. Bedford Pirn, with all due 
solemnity, by the King of Mosquito in person. (See Appendix, p. 468.) 


thirty feet long, with a good-sized cabin in midships. 
The wind caught her up like a feather ; and the next 
morning, when the people emerged from the various 
places of shelter they had sought, they found the 
mission-boat spiked on the top of a broken cocoa-nut- 
tree, whether it had been snapped off by the wind or 
the weight of the boat was not apparent ; but there she 
was, about fifteen or twenty feet from the ground, im- 
paled by the tree, and offering a problem by no means 
easy of solution to the mechanical genius of the men 
of Corn Islands, as to the best method of restoring her 
to her proper element. I understand that the boat 
no longer enacts the part of Mahomet's coffin, but has 
been once more placed afloat ; in so battered a condi- 
tion, however, as to be useless for any but the com- 
monest work, such, for instance, as carrying a load of 
stones or of cocoa-nuts for a short distance. 

Thus it will be seen that the so-called hurricane 
was confined to a space ninety miles long by about 
sixty broad, and, strangely enough, entirely to the 
ground occupied by the Moravian Missionaries, who 
have been the chief sufferers from so unexpected a 
visitation. ]STo less than five churches have been more 
or less destroyed, besides school and dwelling-houses, 
and a large amount of goods, for the Brethren do what 
they can in trading to make their mission self-sup- 
porting, not unsuccessfully, as they are by far the 
most respected, and their stores the most frequented, 
of any of the traders on the coast. 

But although so much property, native and foreign, 
was destroyed, yet but few people lost their lives. 


The family of the Thompsons on the Pearl Cays, and 
a poor boy who was killed by the fall of a wall on 
Corn Islands, make np the snm total of loss of life. 

After examining the few and scattered facts I have 
been able to gather abont this storm, I am decidedly 
of opinion that it cannot be called a hurricane, in the 
true meaning of the word, but was rather a localized 
norther of unusual severity. It is much to be re- 
gretted, however, that no reliable observations were 
made, to set this question at rest. Such a thing as a 
hurricane has never yet been experienced on this coast ; 
even its northern extremity, Cape Gracias k Dios, 
being outside the hurricane track of the West Indies. 
That the storm was most severe, is attested by the 
damage done. The lagoon was covered with trees, 
branches, and leaves for a long time ; the water turned 
quite black, and the fish died by hundreds, no doubt 
poisoned. They floated on the surface of the lagoon 
until the exhalations arising from their dead bodies 
became almost unbearable. Amongst them, several 
species were observed by the natives which had never 
been seen before, and which were, I was assured, of a 
very curious shape and appearance. The beach all 
round was lined with hundreds of dead fish, alligators, 
sharks, and a variety of strange shells, while on the 
river banks there were great quantities of dead maniti. 

A few days afterwards, the parrots came to the 
settlement in thousands, and great numbers dropped 
dead from sheer starvation. Then, the tigers made 
their appearance, lean, gaunt, and savage, eating up 
everything that came in their way, and very capital 


scavengers they proved ; but at last they became so 
dangerous and troublesome that a crusade was under- 
taken against them, and in the town of Blewfields 
alone, no less than eight were killed in one day. 
Even strange beasts were seen, quite new to the oldest 
hunters in the place; one large animal, pure white, 
and about the size of a large tiger, was repeatedly ob- 
served. I could not help thinking, what a field for 
my friend Professor Owen, and how Dr. Griinther would 
have revelled amongst the fishes ! 

Such is the story of the great storm which the Creoles 
are so fond of calling the hurricane. The amount of 
animal life destroyed must have been enormous, and 
as to the effect on the vegetable kingdom, I can only 
compare it to that of a tremendous flash of lightning, 
scorching and scathing all before it. 

That the missionaries should have been the principal 
sufferers, and that the destruction should have been 
confined to their especial field of operations alone, is a 
curious fact. It was a heavy blow to these excellent men 
and their good cause, and very energetic measures on 
their part will be required, as well as liberal aid from 
friends and supporters, to put them on the same footing 
they occupied before this heavy misfortune overtook 

But after this hurricane digression, I must go ahead 
with my canoe up the Blewfields river, without losing 
any more time. 

* Should any of my readers care to take a practical interest in the 
Moravian missions, I may mention that every opportunity will be 
afforded them at the "London Association in Aid of the Brethren's 
Missions," 32, Sackville Street, Piccadilly, W. 


I had a double motive in undertaking this expedi- 
tion ; first, to satisfy a desire long felt by me to exa- 
mine for myself a river about which I had heard so 
much, and which, from its position, will doubtless, 
some day or other, be the means of " opening up" this 
valuable country; and, secondly, to lay down its 
course on the map, between the mouth and Kisilala, 
with sufficient accuracy to enable me to judge if 
it might be made available for shortening the road to 
the mining district of Chontales, in Nicaragua, in the 
prosperity of which I was much interested. 

I had but very little time at my disposal for the 
trip, having to return to Blewfields by a certain day, 
to attend a public meeting in the town, the first ever 
held there. I therefore took care to provide myself 
with a good canoe and a strong, hardworking crew. 

I hired the canoe from Mr. Christopher Hodgson, a 
Creole of good position in the town; and Mr. David 
Israng, a native of Hungary, for many years a resident 
in Nicaragua, but now married and settled at Blew- 
fields, obtained the men for me. None of them had 
ever worked with me before, but they were all well 
recommended. The coxswain was a tall Creole, quite 
black, strongly pitted with smallpox, who stuttered 
fearfully if the least excited ; he was, however, 
good-natured and willing, worked well, and, what is 
more, cheerfully. I engaged them at four strong 
dollars (16s. Sd.) apiece, the men finding their own 
provisions. The same sum was also chargecl for the 
hire of the canoe, so that my Blewfields trip cost me 
for conveyance alone exactly £5, which, considering 


that the men had to work day and night, was not a 
very exorbitant charge. It was, however, fonr times 
as mnch as any resident wonld have paid; bnt the 
amateur traveller on the Blewfields river is a vara 
avis, and it is not to be wondered at if he leaves a 
little of his plumage behind. 

The term " strong dollar " may, perhaps, require 
some explanation. There are two sorts of dollars in 
use throughout the country, the strong and the weak ; 
the former is the American silver dollar, worth ten 
dimes, fifty pence, or 4s. 2d.', the latter is the mongrel 
dollar of the interior, considered to be only worth 
eight dimes, forty pence, 3s. 4:d., — the present value, 
by the bye, of the paper dollar of the United States 
in its depreciated currency. Future visitors to Cen- 
tral America will do well to remember this fact, as 
payment will always be enforced in strong dollars, 
unless the contrary is specially understood; and I 
need scarcely say that the difference is no trifle when 
large sums are involved. 

The first thing I set my canoe-crew to work upon 
was to make a chowpa, or roof, over that part of the 
canoe in which I intended to take up my quarters. 
The materials of which this covering is usually made 
are now very scarce at Blewfields, so that I had to 
send two of the men in a canoe to cut the necessary 
quantity. The traveller should be very careful about 
the construction of this roof, which is to shelter him 
from the* sun by day and the very heavy dews by 
night, or from the rain in the rainy season ; in fact, it 
is his house, and deserves the greatest attention, which 



I am sorry to say few natives will give, unless well 
looked after ; for such an idea as sheltering themselves, 
either by day or night, when they are travelling, 
never enters their head. "Wrapped in a blanket, I 
have seen a Creole snore through a perfect deluge of 
rain ; and as to the sun, it seems to have less effect on 
their dark and sinewy naked shoulders than it has on 
the wood of the canoe itself; for I have stepped out of 
my chowpa and walked forward on the pretence of 
looking at something ahead, but in reality to put my 
hand on their burning back, as I thought ; but, to my 
great surprise, found their skin, instead of being 
scorching hot, as any one would suppose, quite cool 
to the touch. However, chacun a son gout ; they like 
nakedness, I prefer a covering, and therefore I looked 
to the construction of my chowpa myself. 

First, three holes were bored in the top gunwale of 
the canoe on each side, about big enough to put the 
finger in, and three feet apart ; then three lengths of 
good-sized tough parasitical vine were bent over from 
side to side, and well lashed, by its own tendrils, to 
the holes ; for this same vine is accommodating enough 
to hang in festoons of all sizes from the trees ; you 
may either make a selection of natural string, long 
enough and strong enough to do up a small parcel of 
unbaked corn-dough wrapped in a plantain leaf, or 
cut it down sufficiently thick to moor a line-of-battle 

When the three rafters, so to speak, are bent over 
the boat from each of the three holes, a slight pole, 
generally cane or bamboo, is laid along the top length- 


ways, and firmly secured to each of the three rafters 
by the aforesaid vine string, commonly called withes ; 
parallel to this cane on each side others are laid. 
The structure then looks like very open basketwork, 
and only requires thatching to complete it. This 
is done by laying on palm leaves in bunches, the rib 
or backbone of the leaves lying close together inside, 
and then bound securely to one of the canes placed 
lengthways. This is repeated on each of the parallel 
canes ; and then the crown is completed by dexter- 
ously twisting the branches together in such a manner 
that an equal part hangs down on each side of the 
centre cane, you have now an admirable and cool 
shelter, quite impervious to the heaviest rains and to 
the rays of the fiercest sun. But inasmuch as in 
ascending rivers where the current is strong, it is 
often necessary to creep along shore, either to find 
water shallow enough to enable one to use the pole ; 
or to get out of the strength of the current, thus 
repeatedly bringing the chowpa in violent contact 
with branches of trees, to the serious detriment of 
the thatch, — I always take care to place over all a 
stout tarpaulin, having brass thimbles let into the 
corners, for securely fastening it down to the gunwale ; 
with this addition the chowpa is not easily injured. 
Inside, a few planks laid lengthways on the top of 
some sticks placed crosswise on the bottom, suffice as 
a flooring to keep the passenger well above any water 
which may collect in the bilges, whether caused by 
the top of a wave or by the rain. 

To the rafters the gun, ammunition, machete, tele- 


scope, as well as the many useful articles it is desirable 
to have ready to hand, are suspended. Over the 
bottom planks is spread a mat to sit upon ; while the 
blanket, pillow, hammock, and waterproof rolled up, 
form a good-sized sort of bolster upon which to lean 

Altogether, with the exception of the smallness of 
the space to move about in, — namely, six feet by three 
feet six inches, — the accommodation is not to be 
despised; indeed, I always preferred to sleep in my 
canoe, rather than take up my quarters in any of the 
habitations to be found on the river banks or lake 
shores of Central America ; and I should strongly re- 
commend travellers to adopt the same plan, by which 
they would at least avoid making the acquaintance of 
fleas, bugs, jiggers, and garrapatoes, whose boldness 
is only exceeded in this country by their voracity, and 
whose persistent attacks are sure to deprive even the 
most weary traveller of his much-needed rest and 

The mosquitoes, also, so dreadfully troublesome on 
the San Juan river, are best kept off under the 
chowpa, to the framework of which it is easy to 
stretch the mosquito net, and then, tucking it in 
well between the mat and the planking, you may 
calmly watch the futile attempts of the enemy to 
effect an entrance. By the bye, I ought to mention 
that the sight of a mosquito at Blewfields or up the 
river is very rare. 

Having prepared an adequate shelter from the 
weather, it became necessary to provide the requisite 


edibles for the voyage; and here a difficulty arose, 
for Blewfields is not well stocked with provisions of 
the sort most palatable to Englishmen. Fortunately, 
I had arranged that the crew were to find their own 
provisions, and as I am easily satisfied, I considered 
myself in luck with the odds and ends collected by 
Mends, such as a couple of tins of sardines, a canister 
of small biscuits, a piece of a ham, some hard-boiled 
eggs, a bucketful of oysters, a cold roast parrot, half- 
a-dozen of beer, a bottle of sherry, and some sugar 
of the coarsest description. This sugar is brought 
all the way from Jamaica, and is very dear; while 
perhaps of all countries, and especially in this imme- 
diate vicinity, Mosquito produces the finest canes. 
In some parts, Sugar Cane Creek, for example, near 
Pirn's Bay, there are acres of it growing wild, and yet 
no one thinks of making sugar. 

Last, but not least, I was indebted for some tea to 
an Englishman, Mr. Wickham, engaged in a bird- 
shooting expedition. But for his kindness, I should 
have had to go up the river without any, for tea is 
scarce on the Mosquito coast, coffee and cocoa taking 
its place, as they are easily and cheaply raised on the 
spot ; indeed, the latter can be bought from the Indians 
for a shilling a pound. 

To lose my accustomed tea would have been a severe 
deprivation; for in all my experience of travelling, 
whether in the East or "West Indies, the Arctic regions 
or the tropics, the mountain or the plain, by land or 
by water, there is no other beverage which cheers or 
refreshes so much as a hot cup of tea. In my opinion, 


no European traveller should ever start on a journey 
without an ample supply, and he should take care of 
it as of the apple of his eye. 

A tin mug for drinking purposes, serving alike for 
tea, beer, sherry, lemonade, or even soup, if one should 
be fortunate enough to shoot anything worth stewing ; 
a tin plate, and an excellent pocket-companion in the 
shape of a knife, fork, and spoon in one case, — sold by 
Messrs. Mappins, King William Street, London — com- 
pose my breakfast, tea, and dinner service ; and cer- 
tainly no one can accuse me of overloading the canoe 
in this particular. The plate has a hole in the rim, 
with a piece of string passed through it, by means of 
which it is tied up under the chowpa ; the tin mug is 
hung up by its handle to the projecting end of one of 
the cane rafters, and ornaments one side ; while a small 
bag containing comb, soap, and toothbrush balances it 
on the other, and now I am ready for a start. 









Haying now given some idea of the preparations 
necessary for canoe travelling, it is high time we em- 
barked and set off on the journey. Accordingly, the 
men were summoned, and in due course (not very 
quickly, it must be owned, for there is always some- 
thing to be done at the last moment) made their ap- 
pearance at the little pier belonging to the Moravian 

One man carried the mast, spreets, sails, etc., another 
the paddles, a third the rudder, iron pot, and what a 
Yankee would call the fixings; while the others di- 
vided between them their own provisions, well wrapped 
in plantain leaves, and the personal luggage of the 
crew, packed in a Carib trunk or basket, so closely 
woven of split cane that it is impervious to the 
heaviest rain. It is simply made, in the form of two 

2 c 


deep trays, one of which fits tightly over the other, 
and requires neither lock nor hinges. 

Each man brings his own machete, a most useful 
tool, either as sword or pruning-hook, to kill a snake 
or a man, or to pick his teeth or cut down a plantain. 

As to the culinary utensils, the crew always look 
out for them. If going on a long trip, they are charged 
to the passenger, and, when the voyage is over, be- 
come the perquisites of the crew ; but on the present 
occasion, the necessary articles, such as a large iron 
pot on three legs (the favourite cooking apparatus on 
this coast), a kettle, and a large tin dish, were bor- 
rowed from friends. Each man carries a sheath knife 
in a belt, and as to fork or spoon, they do not 
know how to use the one or the other, so very pro- 
perly never encumber themselves with such articles. 
Drinking-mugs are also quite superfluous articles of 
luxury, as the canoe's baler (generally a calabash), 
when not required for baling, answers all the purpose 
of a cup, and suffices for all hands, and even for the 
passenger himself, who will soon discover that a cala- 
bash is much more pleasant to drink from than a well- 
battered tin mug, which, in spite of dipping over- 
board and well rinsing, more than commonly retains a 
strong flavour of its previous contents. 

Thus equipped, the crew stepped on board, the 
coxswain taking his place as Boss (a favourite name 
with the Caribs for their leading man) just abaft 
the chowpa, in what I should consider a most uncom- 
fortable position, for he had the greatest difficulty, 
perched up as he was on the stern, in keeping his long 

Chap. XXIV.— B. P.] THE START UP RIVER. 387 

legs and huge feet from intruding on my privacy. The 
other four men seated themselves two and two as far 
forward as they could get, placing the mast in mid- 
ships, partly sticking out over the bows ; their machetes 
and a couple of fowling-pieces, together with the 
provisions, cooking utensils, and clothes basket, were 
packed together in the middle of the canoe, and well 
covered over to protect them from the weather. 

Then we pushed off from the shore, each man 
nourishing his paddle, and bringing it down with a 
deep diagonal cut into the water, seeming to lift the 
canoe bodily, and forcing her rapidly forward. 

" Give her fits, boys ! let her rip ! " came in hoarse 
tones from the coxswain; " let her gane, two for one !" 
was echoed from the bows ; and down came the flash- 
ing paddles twice in the interval of the one deep stroke 
at starting. Away we went like an arrow, cutting 
through the smooth and glassy water, which looked like 
silver in the moonbeams, and leaving behind a wake 
of phosphorescent light, which broke up into little 
rippling waves, throwing out hundreds of minute 
flashes as the canoe dashed on her course. 

Nothing could be more beautiful than the scene, or 
more exhilarating than the rapid rate of the little 
craft. Even the sharp tap which the men gave with 
their paddles at each stroke, seemed to add to the 
effect ; and it was, therefore, anything but agreeable, 
awakening one, as it were, from a pleasant dream, 
when, in about twenty minutes from starting, the men 
began to slacken their efforts, and to paddle so slowly 
as almost to bring the canoe to standstill. 

2 c2 


I soon found, however, by one or other standing up 
every now and then and peering about him, that they 
were looking out for a practicable entrance to the 
river, a task by no means easy, even for their practised 
eyesight; for, as I have before mentioned, there is a 
decided sameness in mangrove bushes, especially per- 
plexing at such a distance as we were obliged to keep 
off the land, and with false indentations quite as nu- 
merous as the real mouths. 

At last the crew appeared to have made up their 
minds ; the Boss changed the course right in for the 
shore, and a few minutes' paddling found us fairly 
inside. A ghost-like white ibis, or crane, rose slowly 
and wearily from the muddy point, taking flight si- 
lently up the river, and seemingly pointing out the 
road for us; while a strong smell of musk gave us 
notice that the canoe must have disturbed an alligator 
almost within length of our paddles. 

It was just a quarter to eleven on the night of the 
28th April, 1867, as we entered the river, having left 
the town of Blewfields at twenty-five minutes past ten, 
and thus we commenced the voyage. 

The men settled themselves to their work, taking 
up a steady stroke ; the Boss chanted a Carib canoe- 
song, having been told that I had a strong liking for 
this mode of encouraging the crew ; and I betook my- 
self to the shelter of the chowpa, for the dew was 
falling with a penetrating power equal to that of small 
rain, there not being a single cloud in the heavens to 
absorb the moisture. 

Having spread my blanket and arranged my pillow, 


I lay down ; and what with the soothing nature of the 
Carib song — more like humming than singing — and 
the gentle rocking of the canoe, I soon fell fast asleep. 

At first sight it may appear strange for a traveller 
about to make a journey with the avowed purpose of 
exploration, to start on his voyage just before mid- 
night, and compass a good many miles in darkness 
but there was more than one substantial reason for 
doing so. In the first place, I had arranged to be in 
Blewfields on the 1st May ; so that I only had an in- 
terval of two and a half days between the time of my 
departure and noon on the day of my appointment. 
Then, again, I was anxious to see how quickly the 
journey could really be made ; for there were many 
apocryphal stories about the distance, and no one 
seemed to have any very clear idea of either the 
length or direction of the navigable portion of the 
river. Lastly, pushing ahead by night was not only 
a gain in time, but also in comfort ; for it is needless 
to say how much cooler it is with the sun beneath the 
horizon, than during the daytime, when it is blazing 
overhead; besides, I so managed, that in returning 
I covered during daylight that part of the river pre- 
viously passed at night-time, and I therefore saw 
every inch of it, from Kisilala to the mouth. 

In spite of the comfort of the chowpa, I soon woke 
up, and spent the rest of the night in alternate dozing 
under shelter and standing up outside, taking mental 
notes of the appearance of the banks. Nothing trans- 
pired by way of variety ; the men kept on with their 
paddling, no doubt taking it in turns, when my eye 


was not on them, to have a nap, but rousing them- 
selves to action as soon as I became restless and gave 
indications of wakefulness ; for, of course, in such a 
ticklish specimen of naval architecture as a canoe, the 
slightest movement on the part of any one is at once 
perceptible to the others. 

On the whole, I was not dissatisfied with the pro- 
gress made, which I calculated at about four or four 
and a half miles an hour, but we were all glad when 
the light of day appeared once more ; no one seemed 
to regret it, — the change alone was pleasant. The 
men looked chilled through, and were dripping wet 
from the dew, which stood in large globules all over 
the canoe. As the sun rose, the moisture was quickly 
absorbed; the light cotton garments of the " boys" 
no longer stuck to their skins, and it was curious to 
observe as the heat increased how their spirits rose ; 
the paddles moved more briskly, and the silence which 
had reigned supreme for some time gave place to quite 
an animated conversation. 

The effect of chill or cold on those who have African 
blood in their veins is always depressing ; they seem 
to be quite nipped by any fall in the temperature, and 
to lose heart and strength in proportion to its intensity, 
—just the reverse of the white man, whose full energy 
appears to be aroused as the thermometer lowers. It 
may be said, indeed, that these respective distinctions 
are the natural characteristics of men born either in 
northern or tropical climates ; but I cannot agree with 
this, and rather attribute the fact to a race dis- 
tinction. I recollect taking great interest in the 

Chap. XXIV.— B. P.] AN ARCTIC NEGRO. 391 

history of one of the men belonging to the ship I 
succoured in the Arctic Begions, the * Investigator ;' he 
was a negro, but, be it remembered, born in Canada, 
a part of the world cold enough, in all conscience. My 
attention was at first attracted to him by observing 
that he had lost some of his fingers ; and, on making 
inquiries, I found that he was minus some toes also, 
on account of frost-bites, which he had been too apa- 
thetic to treat in the proper manner. When the ' Inves- 
tigator ' was abandoned, and the crew turned their steps 
towards H.M.S. l Eesolute,' from which I had started 
to find them, this man, though in the best of spirits at 
the relief which I had been so happy as to bring to 
himself and shipmates, was always the first to give in. 
This tendency had been observed in him on round- 
ing Cape Horn, with ice in sight ; but in hot weather 
no better working man could be found, and it was only 
on a fall of the temperature that heart and strength 
seemed to fail him. He was as fine a specimen of 
humanity as could be seen, — six feet high, and of 
excellent proportions, with the strength of a giant. 
No doubt similar observations have been made, by 
those capable of judging, on the negroes born in 
the Northern States of America; I have myself re- 
marked the blue, pinched-up, and utterly languid 
state of the darkies of Washington in January, and 
their jubilant carriage in the summer months, showing 
that, no matter under what clime men may be born, 
their race -attributes must crop out. 

A hint to the above effect might be useful to the 
politicians of the United States during election time ; 


I accordingly commend it to their notice, but hope 
they will not think of cooling refractory democratic 
niggers in an icehouse. Joking apart, you cannot 
make a silk purse out of a sow's ear ; and I strongly 
suspect that even now some of the most rabid anti- 
slavery men in the United States begin to see the mis- 
take they have made in claiming relationship with an 
alien and far inferior race, and in suddenly elevating 
its members to a political equality, which is rather an 
evil than otherwise to the recipients, and which is 
most certainly detrimental to the interests of the 

Just when daylight had fully dawned, we passed a 
remarkable triangular rock near the right bank, and 
by the ripple against it I could see there was a current 
running down of about a knot an hour. I should 
judge this rock to be about twenty miles from the 
mouth ; and as the banks are low, cut out square from 
the land, and covered with grass and forest trees very 
similar in appearance all the way, it formed quite 
a feature in the river. The banks here are about five 
feet in height, and, I was assured, are often overflowed 
by freshets in the wet season. 

During the night I had been much struck by the 
rapid winding of the river, but by daylight the bends 
seemed even more sharp ; indeed, in many instances, 
a tree passed close to on the right-hand a few minutes 
previously, would stand out in bold relief in the next 
turn, and apparently as near as before, thus showing 
how very narrow the points of land must be. In fact, 
I have never seen a river with so many turns, not even 

Chap. XXIV.— B. P.] BRACKISH WATER. 393 

excepting the Kama, although it also is famous for 
its sudden windings. There is another point in which 
the Blewfields resembles the Bama, viz. the saltness of 
the water, which is brackish for a considerable distance 
from the sea. I was quite ignorant of this until just after 
passing the rock mentioned above, when, thinking 
about my morning ablutions, I remarked how very blue 
and deep the water looked. It then struck me that it 
had in no respect the appearance of fresh water. The 
tin mug was immediately put into requisition, and sure 
enough the water turned out to be quite salt. I 
upbraided the men for not having told me of this fact, 
so that I might have provided some fresh water to 
drink, as I did not care for beer or wine so early in 
the morning, but I got no satisfaction from any of 
them; my preference for water was certainly not in 
accordance with their taste, and my not having any 
water was, no doubt, my own fault ; although they 
did not exactly say so. They had not forgotten to 
bring a jar-full for themselves, an application to 
which, however, only served to show how thirsty they 
had been in the night ; for, it was empty. 

I have had considerable experience in travelling both 
with Negro and Carib Creoles, and I can safely assert 
that if the traveller looks for the slightest attention or 
consideration on their part, he will be wofully mis- 
taken ; they have to take care of themselves, and others 
must do the same. They never think of doing any- 
thing unless distinctly ordered, except it be something 
for their own advantage. For instance, when I first 
employed these men, I used to furnish the provisions for 


all hands, and take my meals in common with the rest. 
Nut being very particular, I did not at first notice 
that I came in for all the refuse of the pot ; but one 
day, being short of provisions and the last remnants 
having been cooked, I was rather astonished to find 
that my men had dined and never taken the least 
thought of me ; nay, more, had actually cooked a fowl 
upon which I had rather reckoned, and devoured every 
particle. I tell this story for the benefit of any future 
travellers on the Mosquito coast. Let the men provide 
themselves ; take your own provisions, and keep them 
locked up ; never allow the slightest feeling of mis- 
taken generosity to induce you to share any portion 
with the crew, otherwise you will certainly repent 
having done so. 

The marks of the hurricane of eighteen months 
before were everywhere perceptible. The surround- 
ing forest in all directions had been laid low; ex- 
cept where a gigantic tree, more sturdy than its 
fellows, had resisted the fury of the blast, losing 
only about a third of its grand proportions, but leaving 
the trunk absolutely bare of branches, often stripped 
of its bark, and in many instances blackened just as 
if it had been struck by lightning, or as if a great 
forest fire had devastated the country. 

It was indeed a melancholy sight, and I especially 
felt for my crew, all keen hunters, who lamented the 
visitation most feelingly, on the ground that it had 
destroyed the game, both on land and in the water, 
for many miles around. Indeed, it was impossible 
not to be struck with the absence of animal life ; even 


the usually common sight of a pair of chattering 
parrots flying agross the river was a rarity. 

As we pushed on, I noticed a constant succession 
of cultivated patches, containing plantains, bananas, 
some cocoa-trees, and invariably sugar-cane, which 
grows here to great perfection, without the slightest 
care or attention being paid to it, but I did not observe 
a single cocoa-nut tree on the whole line of the river. 
The soil is everywhere rich, and I was told that at 
this height above the river-mouth swamps were very 
rarely met with. 

At half-past six, when the sun had well risen, we 
began to see houses, or rather huts, on the banks, the 
villa residences of the Blewfields gentry. At one of 
these, belonging to a Creole named George Taylor, we 
stopped to breakfast. The first thing was to light a 
fire and put the kettle on, which fortunately had been 
filled with fresh water before starting. At first I 
feared that I should have to resort to beer for my 
breakfast, as the men declared that there was no drink- 
able water for some little distance ; but when I told 
them to shove off and paddle until we reached water, 
as I would have my tea, the kettle was produced, and 
I have every reason to believe that the water in it had 
been reserved for this purpose, the Creoles being very 
fond of tea, as they proved by making a whole kettle- 
ful, and, after filling my tin mug, sharing the rest 
amongst themselves, without asking whether I wanted 
any more. 

My crew's breakfast had the merit of simplicity. 
A plantain-tree was cut down with a couple of blows 


of the machete, and the bunch of fruit taken off ; a 
number of the plantains, quite green and hard, were 
then peeled and laid on the embers to roast. In about 
a quarter of an hour they were cooked, answering ad- 
mirably for bread ; and, with some salt pork and the 
aforesaid tea, afforded the men an excellent meal. 
My own was rather more luxurious, consisting of 
sardines and crackers. 

Just before we stopped for breakfast, a large creek 
was passed. There is but little water in it at this 
time of the year, but a considerable amount of ma- 
hogany was floated down its stream in former days. 

Three-quarters of an hour were occupied in pre- 
paring and consuming breakfast, after which we 
shoved off, and paddled away once more up stream, 
starting about half-past seven, with a perfectly broil- 
ing sun darting its fierce rays upon us out of a cloud- 
less sky. 

I am told that a common flood does no injury to 
the houses at Taylor's Place, where the banks are, say, 
six feet above the stream at the end of the dry season. 
From this I infer that the average floods cannot be 
very tremendous, as it would require but very little 
pressure to carry away these Mosquitian villas. They 
are certainly of the lightest and least costly construc- 
tion, consisting of a strong upright at each corner, 
with slighter poles at lesser intervals all round, be- 
tween which a species of wild cane or bamboo, split 
in halves, is interwoven. The roof is rather high- 
pitched, to throw off the rain, and is substantially 
thatched with palm-leaves. The floor is the bare 


earth, beaten hard, and a slight partition divides the 
sitting-room from the sleeping apartment. All cook- 
ing is done outside. The whole building, about 
twenty feet square, is very neatly constructed, and, 
my Creoles informed me, could be built in about a week, 
at a cost of perhaps <8f20, or £4, and would last for 
years, if not washed away by a flood. 

If Anglo-Saxons ever people the banks of this river, 
they will doubtless place their habitations further 
inland, and on higher ground, unlike the present oc- 
cupants, who build close to the edge of the bank, in 
which steps are cut and logs of wood laid almost 
from the door to the water's edge. At every mile one 
is more and more struck with the value of this river, 
which is by far the deepest on the coast. I was as- 
sured that, for a long distance, ten to twelve fathoms 
was a common depth; and this I know, that I re- 
peatedly sounded with a palanca twenty-five feet in 
length, close to the bank, and never could touch the 

At a quarter-past eight we passed Hone Creek, 
which is a celebrated locality for mahogany; and a 
quarter of an hour later the house and plantation of 
Hercules Temple, on the right bank of the river, at 
the mouth of Mahogany Creek, and on its right bank. 

The water was still brackish, even up that creek. 
It was about high water as we passed Temple's house, 
and the current was still running up a little. The rise 
and fall of the tide is only eighteen inches at Blewfields ; 
this will give some idea of how very level the country 
must be between the lagoon and this place, a distance 


of thirty miles at least by the windings of the river, 
or about twenty as the crow flics, according to my 
estimate. Above Mahogany Creek, the banks of 
the main river begin to assume higher proportions, 
the average height being about eight feet ; four miles 
further on we got a supply of fresh water from a 
spring on the right bank. The water trickled into 
some holes which had been dug to receive it, and 
which we soon emptied by filling our pots and pans ; 
it was cool and delicious. Here the banks are about 
fifteen feet high, covered with ferns, long grass, and 
caressa, or wild cane. At this place, also, the trade- 
wind reached us, so that we were able to make sail 
and give the men a rest, although the breeze was not 
strong enough to drive the canoe quicker than the 
men could paddle. 

Soon after ten we entered upon a long reach, — quite 
a novelty on this river, — at the end of it, on the left 
bank, was the Queen Dowager's house and plantation, 
not a whit better than any of the others. In this reach 
we got some sugar-cane from a small patch belonging 
to one of the men ; for, though very fond of cane, and 
never, if possible, without a good stock in the canoe 
with them, it did not seem to enter their heads to 
poach on any of the numerous patches which we 
passed belonging to their neighbours. Here, also, I 
picked some barnacles from an old snag in the river, 
the water of which was still brackish. The banks 
about the Queen Dowager's property attain a con- 
siderable height, and little hillocks appear now and 
then further inland. I should think this is about the 

Chap. XXIV.— B. P.] THE COTTON-TREE. 399 

most eligible site for a plantation on the river, a creek 
runs in on each side of the house, and the clayey 
earthen banks begin to show symptoms of a firmer 
foundation, for rocks crop out, forming little stony 
points, the soundings also decrease in depth, and the 
direction of the river from this place is to the north- 
ward of west, instead of due west as heretofore. 

After passing this reach and another nearly as 
long, we came to Dixon's house, the farthest up the 
river. It is at least twenty feet above the water, and 
yet was inundated at the time of the great storm. 
The owner was present at the time, but fortunately he 
and his family were able to escape in their canoe. 

Just beyond Dixon's we sighted the Eama hill 
(bearing S.S.W.), so called because it points out the 
entrance to the Eama, the first affluent which enters 
the Blewfields. About six miles higher up we passed 
Saw-house Creek, where formerly a saw-mill for cut- 
ting mahogany was at work. I found the water still 
disagreeable to the taste, not even the Caribs would 
drink it. 

The gigantic cotton-trees are quite a feature about 
this part of the river ; their gaunt, bare, white stems, 
denuded of branches and shortened by the head, look 
like so many monoliths, giving the idea of an immense 
graveyard with colossal tombstones, nature's tribute to 
the memory of thousands of unburied denizens of the 
forest, destroyed in the late furious war of the ele- 

The country now became hilly ; in one place a cliff 
rose up on the right bank to a height of fifty feet, the 


trunk of a solitary tree standing erect on its summit, 
with all its late companions prostrated around it; 
the hill on the opposite bank, upwards of a hundred 
feet high, was in a similar condition, each forming a 
prominent mark in the landscape. At half-past two 
we reached the mouth of the Eama river, with its hill 
of two hundred feet pointing out the entrance. It 
empties itself into the main river on the right bank, but 
I was much disappointed at the insignificant appear- 
ance of its mouth, only about fifty feet across, although 
deep for some little distance up stream. A few yards 
before we opened out this river, we passed another 
remarkable rock called the Eama Eock, very similar 
to the one I have already described above, and likely to 
prove equally dangerous at certain stages of the river, 
if not well marked. From here the country began to be 
broken up, several very respectable hills of two or three 
hundred feet in height making their appearance, with 
small creeks between, choked up, however, with 
fallen trees ; the points of the bends were also of a 
rocky character, losing altogether the alluvial attri- 
butes of those lower down. I estimate the mouth of 
the Eama to be about fifty-five miles by the bends of 
the river from the lagoon, but not more than thirty as 
the crow flies, its bearing being as nearly as possible 
due west from Blewfields. 

From the Eama to the Eusswass, more commonly 
called the Mico, occupied just an hour; and as the 
bends are much longer, and we experienced no cur- 
rent, I put down the distance between the two rivers 
at about four miles. 


The mouth of the Kusswass is also on the right 
bank; it is altogether a finer river than the Bama, 
but the narrowness of its mouth gives no indication 
of its somewhat lengthened course. The town of 
Libertad is built on its right bank, near the source, 
at a distance in a straight line from here of not less 
than forty miles. 

The Creoles told me marvellous stories about the 
heathen temples on the banks of this river, and the 
colossal image of the favourite god of the aborigines, 
a monkey, mico (hence the Spanish name of the river); 
but on a very close cross-questioning of those who had 
been some way up, the only confirmation I could 
obtain of such stories was that there existed a bare 
rock on which some rude figures had been drawn 
(not cut), — very similar, I suspect, to those which I 
copied from the cliff at Asososca, a small lake, and 
close to Lake Mjapa, 4f miles (by my measurement) 
from Managua, and which consisted of a coiled-up 
lizard, about three feet in diameter, painted in red, and 
another, in black, of a man, — or, rather, skeleton, — 
such as would be drawn by a child of a very tender age. 

I would have given something to have ascended the 
Mico, so as to have set this really important question 
at rest, but time would not allow, and I therefore 
commend the journey to some future explorer, as- 
suring him that the trip up the river from Blewfields 
will alone repay him the cost and trouble, and if he 
can find any remains of ruined temples so far south, 
on the Atlantic side, his labours in a scientific point 
of view will not have been in vain. 

2 d 


About a mile below the Mico there is a remarkable 
limestone point, with a small island close to it, the 
first in the river. Here the water is drinkable, but 
has still a heavy and unpleasant flavour; indeed, I 
was assured that it was often quite brackish as far as 
the falls below Kisilala, and I certainly saw barnacles 
on the snags close to that place. 

Off the mouth of the Mico we passed a pitpan con- 
taining an Indian man and woman engaged in fishing ; 
the man was standing up at one end, the woman 
squatting down at the other. How they ever squeezed 
themselves into such a cockleshell of a boat, it is hard 
to conceive, much less how they kept it upright; it 
was certainly not more than twelve feet long by two 
broad, without any keel whatever, and, moreover, 
rounded upwards at both ends. Its shape was some- 
thing like the horse-trough in front of old-fashioned 

Finding that we should only just reach Kisilala 
before dark, I did not stop to have a nearer view of 
these Indians, however tempting, for the amount of 
animal life hitherto seen has not been overwhelming, 
consisting only of one man, one woman, one white 
ibis, and two or three kingfishers of various sizes, 
which at rare intervals took their flight from the 

A short distance beyond the Mico we came upon 
an Indian camp, of six families, on the left bank ; it 
was a very temporary establishment, the only shel- 
ter being a lean-to for each family. There were 
two men, two women, a young girl, and a baby pre- 

Chap. XXIV.— B. P.] W00LWA INDIANS. 403 

sent, but they were very shy, being afraid that we 
were bringing the dreaded sickness, eholera, amongst 
them. Their tribe (Woolwas) had suffered severely 
some short time before, and naturally dreaded a re- 
petition of the scourge. These Indians had nothing 
with them to show that they had ever been in contact 
with Europeans, except the possession of a few beads. 
Their complexion was of the colour of yellow ochre 
and Indian ink mixed, and their skins resembled that 
of a tapir. The young girl had her face daubed all 
over with a red unctuous substance, which gave her a 
very peculiar appearance, otherwise she would have 
been rather pretty. We bought from them three fish 
about the size of a large carp, called toobay, which 
had been shot with arrows ; they proved an excellent 
addition to the evening meal. Some biscuits were 
given in exchange. Unfortunately I could not afford 
to stop more than a few minutes, as my men were 
anxious to push on, and I particularly wished to see 
the approaches to Kisilala by daylight. 

About eight miles above the Mico the bed of the 
river could be distinctly seen right across. It was so 
shallow here that we could easily touch bottom with a 
paddle held at arm's length, say eight feet ; but as if to 
show that this was not its normal condition, I observed 
a lot of bamboo hanging to the branch of a tree at 
least twenty-five feet above the water, which had evi- 
dently been deposited there by a flood. A steamer 
would require very careful handling to bring her 
above this point, which is about two miles below 

2 d 2 


At twenty minutes to six we arrived at the foot of 
Kisilala rapids, through which we poled and dragged 
the canoe, and five minutes afterwards made her 
fast at the foot of a steep bank upon which the huts 
of the Woolwas were perched, about thirty feet above 
the river, and out of the reach of any floods, one would 
have supposed ; but I was assured that a freshet had 
been known to cover the bank on more than one occa- 

I was by no means sorry to find myself at my 
journey's end, after having been cramped up in a 
canoe for so many hours, and soon made myself at 
home in the nearest hut, where some boiled toobay 
seasoned with sardines, some crackers, and roasted 
plantains for bread, the whole washed down by a 
good large calabash of tea, soon restored tired nature 
and aching limbs. 

There were two men and two women in the lodge, 
and I found that they were the only human be- 
ings in Kisilala, the rest of the inhabitants of the 
village having hidden themselves up the creeks or 
down the river, out of the way of the dreaded sick- 
ness ; on the principle, I suppose, that, being out of 
sight, they would be out of mind. 

Of the two men, one was a Mosquito Indian, the 
other a Woolwa; the former appeared to me to be 
lord of all he surveyed, for he domineered over his 
companions just like a spoiled child. He was, how- 
ever, about the most intelligent native I ever met, 
giving me (through one of the Caribs who acted as in- 
terpreter) a very clear account of the river above and 

Chap. XXIV.— B. P.] KISILALA. 405 

the river below. He had been as far as the Javali 
mine in one direction, and often to Blewfields in the 
other ; indeed, he had been as far sonth as Greytown, 
so he onght to have learned something of the world 
after snch extensive travels. 

The Woolwa Indian seemed almost in the condition 
of a slave, for he did whatever the other told him, if 
not with cheerful obedience, at all events without a 
murmur. The two women were the wives of the 
Mosquito man, and uglier-looking squaws it has 
seldom been my lot to see. They were busily en- 
gaged in chewing cassava, to make mushla for a feast, 
spitting it out when well mixed with saliva into a 
large wooden dish scooped out of a tree. It gave me 
all the sensations of sea-sickness to look at them and 
the filthy contents of their bowl. After two or three 
days' fermentation, this delectable beverage is ready 
for use, or rather abuse. It is very sour, very strong, 
and looks like buttermilk. 

The preparation of an intoxicating liquor from the 
cassava, or yuka (Manihot Aipi, Pohl), has been from 
time immemorial practised in the interior of Peru, where 
the Indians call it "masato." Antonio Eaimondy, in 
his ' Apuntes sobre la Provincia litoral de Loreto ' (Lima, 
1862, p. 132), gives a circumstantial account of it, 
which, from its ethnological importance, may here be 
translated, and ought to be compared with the descrip- 
tion of the preparation of kava furnished by Dr. See- 
mann in his < Yiti ' (London, 1862,p. 327) :— "In order 
to get an idea of the way in which this beverage (ma sat o) 
is prepared, it is necessary to enter for a moment one of 


the great houses of the heathen Temple of Ucayali, on 
the eve of a great festival. On one side are seen several 
half-naked women, seated on the floor around a heap of 
yucas, and occupied in peeling the skin off them. On 
the other side is a woman busy in putting the cleaned 
roots in a pot large enough for a man to fall into. 
After this has been done, a small quantity of water is 
put in the pot, the yucas are covered with leaves, and 
then boiled ; when boiled they are mashed. Advanced 
to this state, they proceed to the most important, and, 
at the same time, most disgusting operation. The 
women, and in some instances the men also, sit down 
once more in a circle round the mashed yucas, taking 
large handfuls in their mouths, which they chew with- 
out swallowing, until it is completely saturated with 
saliva, and almost become liquid. In this state the 
filthy mass is spit out, and the operation repeated 
until the required quantity is prepared. After this, a 
small portion of mashed yuca is mixed and kneaded 
with the chewed mass, and then put into pots, which 
are covered up until fermentation sets in. The saliva 
contained in the mashed yuca produces fermentation, 
changes the starch into sugar and the sugar into alco- 
hol, — a process which, according to the state of the 
temperature and the existing quantity of saliva, takes 
place in two, three, or four days. This fermented 
mass accompanies the Indians in all their journeys; 
when wishing to prepare from it their disgusting be- 
verage, it is dissolved with a little water." 

Such exactly, in the latter half of the nineteenth 
century, is " mushla," still the favourite beverage of 

Chap. XXIV.— B. P.] MUSHLA. 407 

all the tribes on the Mosquito coast ; and such pre- 
cisely was "masato," a national drink of the Incas, 
who can say how many years before the Conquest ?* 
In the face of such a fact, where is the philanthropist 
who will still maintain that at the door of Europeans 
lies all the guilt of introducing drunkenness and de- 
bauchery into the New World ? 

In the tropics the light disappears with the sun ; 
there is no twilight, no gentle blending of day and 
night; and, as I had not written up my journal, I 
told my Caribs to bring me a candle from the canoe. 
Instead of the candle, however, they brought me a 
bundle of splinters cut from the pitch-pine, which is 
found in great quantities at the back of Pearl Cay 
Lagoon; this, when lit, gives a bright clear flame, 
much more intense than that of a dozen candles, so 
I was not sorry for the change. 

The Woolwa was roused up from the corner where 
he had been dozing, and speedily converted into a 
candlestick, — holding out the lighted torch close to 
me, and looking on with stoical indifference at my 
journal-writing, respecting which he evinced not the 
smallest curiosity. Occasionally he varied the mono- 
tony of the task by scratching his head and different 
parts of his naked body, slapping his thigh or calf oc- 
casionally when a flea or some other vermin gave him 
a nip. 

I have before alluded to the mahogany trade which 

* Can there be any philological connection between the American 
terms " cassava," or " kasava," and the Polynesian " kava" or " ava," 
supposed to be derived from the Sanskrit "kasya" (intoxicating beve- 
rages) ? 


formerly flourished not only on this river, but at many 
other places in Mosquito. 

A great deal of mahogany has been obtained from 
the Blewfields river, and, no doubt, a great deal still 
remains to be taken away ; it may, therefore, be worth 
while in this place to give a short descriptive account 
of the tree itself, and of the way in which it is cut 
and shipped. 

The mahogany attains the greatest size and grows 
most abundantly between the parallel of the tropic of 
Cancer and the tenth degree of north latitude. It is 
generally to be seen on elevated ridges, and is by 
no means confined to a fertile soil; on the contrary, 
the trees which have attained the greatest size are 
mostly those which grow on stony ground. 

The Spaniards have the merit of discovering the 
value of mahogany, having used it for shipbuilding 
soon after the discovery of the New World, somewhere 
about the year 1530. It is frequently mentioned by 
the earlier navigators; Sir Walter Raleigh repaired 
his ships with it in 1597 ; and Dampier, in 1681, took 
all his vessels to St. Andrew's and Old Providence, on 
the Mosquito coast, to carry out the necessary repairs 
and to make canoes, because those islands were then 
plentifully stocked with the wood. 

Mahogany was not imported into England until 
1724, and then only came into repute by mere accident. 
Some few planks were sent to a relative in London by 
the captain of a merchant ship trading with the West 
Indies ; but the carpenters of that day declared that 
it was too hard to use, so it was made up merely as 

Chap. XXI V.— B. P.] MAHOGANY. 409 

a curiosity ; it, however, attracted so much attention 
that the owner procured a further supply, had a bureau 
made of it, and set the fashion, which, unlike most 
fashions, has ever since grown in favour with the 

The tree itself is one of the most beautiful in the 
tropics, and one of the largest. I have often seen the 
trunk between forty and fifty feet in height, under the 
branches, and fourteen to sixteen paces in circumfer- 
ence, — equal to thirty or thirty-five feet, squaring 
seven or eight feet, one slice alone being enough to 
floor a small room. 

At a short distance the tree is a magnificent sight, 
— its giant arms stretching over a great extent of 
ground, and generally forming a sort of dome-shaped 
top, which can be distinguished at certain seasons of 
the year from all other trees by the discoloration of 
the leaves, which then (August, September, and Octo- 
ber) assume quite an autumnal tint, like the leaves of 
many of our trees at home. 

This well-known change of the leaf is of great value 
to the hunter, as the Carib is called whose business it 
is to point out the mahogany ; he climbs the highest 
tree he can find, at once detects the spots where 
the largest numbers are growing, and then unerringly 
leads the cutters to the place. The first step is to 
clear all 'round the vicinity of the tree selected for 
felling, the men do this with machetes and axes; 
the Canadian axe is their favourite tool. When the 
tree is down, the branches are lopped off and the trunk 
squared, after which it is dragged by oxen yoked two 


and two to the nearest watercourse, by means of 
which it is floated to the port of shipment. But 
it is not alone the felling the trees that engages the 
attention of the mahogany cutter; his principal 
business is road-making, for opening a road from 
the timber to the river requires much more labour 
and expenditure than the mere cutting it down. 
The road must be quite cleared of brushwood, the 
rocks and even hillocks removed, the stumps' of the 
trees squared off, so that nothing may impede the 
ox-cart, the streams bridged over; in short, a good 
cart-road made. This work commences in December, 
when the dry season has fairly set in, and by the time 
the ground is well dried up — namely, in March — 
several miles of roads have been made of quite a sub- 
stantial character; indeed, these men deserve the 
name of Carib engineers, and better men for employ- 
ment on the works of any tropical railway it would be 
difficult to find; very little teaching would be re- 
quired to make them perfect. 

When the mahogany is rolled into the river, it is 
allowed to remain there until the water rises, about 
June, when it is floated down in charge of men who 
follow with their pitpans and keep it in the stream. 

One peculiarity of the mahogany is that the wood 
is superior when grown in the open savanna on 
stony ground ; but it attains its greatest size in the 
solitude of the forests, and no doubt there are thou- 
sands on thousands of trees still to be found in the 
vicinity of the Blewfields river. 

The trees are felled between change and full of the 

Chap. XXIV.-B. P.] ITS GREAT YALUE. 411 

moon ; for, although unaccountable, it is nevertheless 
the case that at that time the wood is sounder, has 
less sap, and is of a darker colour. The mahogany -tree 
may be cut down at any time during the year, but 
between October and June is the time selected, on 
account of its being the dry season. 

The great value of mahogany arises from its extreme 
durability, its extraordinary power of resisting the 
impact of shot, and its non-splintering properties ; in- 
deed, it is marvellous that it has not been used exten- 
sively for the backing of our ironclads, instead of teak, 
which in no respect can compare with mahogany, not 
even in durability, while its weight is far greater, and 
it is more easily splintered by shot than any other 

The oak is the monarch tree in the forests of the 
temperate zone, and the mahogany in those of the tro- 
pics ; but the latter is in all respects the finer wood, — 
it shrinks less than oak, warps and twists less, is more 
buoyant, holds glue better, and weighs less. (The aver- 
age weight of a cubic foot of mahogany is forty-four 
pounds, while that of oak is fifty-five pounds.) Ma- 
hogany is very slow to fire and free from dry rot and 
the effect of acids ; it is admirably adapted for building 
steamers, as it does not suffer from any change of tem- 

The relative weight of Central American mahogany 
is, say, three hundred and forty feet to the ton. The 
specific gravity of seasoned Honduras mahogany is less 
than oak or teak in the following proportions. It is 
calculated that a vessel of one thousand tons, built of 


mahogany, would, when afloat, displace nearly one 
hundred tons less than if built of either of those 
woods; a most important consideration in the con- 
struction of our ironclads, and a fact which ought not 
to be overlooked by our naval authorities. One word 
more ; the non-corrosion of metals is a very valuable 
property in this wood, as ascertained by the celebrated 
chemist Dr. Ure, who, having tested samples of Cen- 
tral American mahogany submitted to him for analysis, 
reported that "a decoction of the chips or shavings 
had hardly any chemical reaction, and scarcely affected 
iron and copper." And, as a case in point, it is known 
that when the old Spanish frigate 'Princesa,' built of 
mahogany, was taken to pieces, so sound and tenacious 
were her iron fastenings that the men were paid double 
wages for extracting the bolts. 

Before taking leave of Kisilala, I must say a few 
words about the Indians I met there, now the last rem- 
nant of a tribe once very numerous on the Blewfields 
river. Their total extinction is not far distant ; indeed, 
their numbers at present, including men, women, and 
children, do not reach two hundred, and the birth 
of a child is quite an event. 

One very curious custom of these Indians I must 
mention, as another instance showing the craving for 
stimulants natural to the genus homo. They drink 
their cocoa boiling hot, and very highly seasoned with 
chili pepper freshly plucked from the shrub. One 
spoonful would be quite enough to scald the mouth 
and burn out the palate of any European, but the 
Indian swallows with impunity the contents of a large 


calabash, holding at least two pints. He seats himself 
on the ground, draws up his knees, rests his elbows 
upon them, and then receives the calabash of doubly- 
heated cocoa from his squaw, slowly allowing the 
seething liquid to trickle down his throat. Soon his 
breathing becomes harder than usual, an intense per- 
spiration bursts out all over the body, and the stomach 
swells perceptibly ; but the man never moves until the 
contents of the calabash are drained to the bottom. 
This is certainly a new way of drinking cocoa, — with- 
out milk or sugar, but with chili peppers as a sub- 
stitute. Both this and mushla are but rude attempts 
to provide stimulants, — so rude, indeed, that it is not 
a matter for wonder that the poor savages should 
prefer the brandy, rum, and whisky of the pale-faces. 

Perhaps I ought here to say a few words about 
cocoa or chocolate, as it is daily becoming more and 
more valuable as a food staple, and we are now in the 
country where it is cultivated to perfection ; in fact, it 
is indigenous to the American continent. Cortez relates 
that in Mexico he found large cocoa plantations, which 
dated from " time immemorial," and that the Mexicans 
attributed to the tree a divine origin. So much for its 

The " conquistadores " introduced it into Spain, and 
contrabandistas into the rest of Europe. For how 
many good things are we indebted to Columbus ! 
Chocolate reached us a few years after the Abyssinian 
(not Arabian) berry from the Province of Kaffa (hence 
the name), near the "White Nile, had begun to be 
appreciated in Paris. Tobacco, the turkey, and the 


potato are all purely American, and their introduction 

to Europe followed in course of time on the discovery 

of the new continent, but certainly cocoa is second to 

none of these in value. 

The various countries which furnished Europe with 

cocoa in 1866 were as follows, according to their rank 

as exporters, viz. : — 


Ecuador 22,000,000 

Brazil 8,121,132 

Venezuela, New Granada, and Nicaragua . . . 4,000,000 

Trinidad 3,000,000 

Cuba and Porto Rico 3,000,000 

The French West Indies and Guyana .... 720,000 
Other countries — India, English West Indies, 

Canaries, Philippine Islands, etc 1,358,868 

Total 42,200,000 

But this list by no means enumerates all the cocoa- 
raising countries or the whole products of those men- 
tioned. Mexico, for instance, harvests 4,000,000 
pounds, yet sells but very little, — consuming nearly 
all within her borders. Guatemala, Honduras, Hayti, 
and some other countries, do not rank amongst the 
exporters, absorbing all they grow for their own con- 
sumption. Eor further particulars concerning this 
" food for a god," see ' The Gate of the Pacific,' pp. 
283, 284. I have introduced the subject here, because 
the cultivation of cocoa will prove a most lucrative 
and easy means of acquiring an independence on the 
part of those whom I look forward to seeing before 
very long engaged in reclaiming and cultivating the 
fertile land of Mosquito. 


But to return to the aborigines. The dress of the 
Woolwas is very simple, that of the men being a 
large fibrous sheet beaten out from the soft bark of a 
tree, exactly like the " tapa " of the Polynesian 
islanders. This sheet is rather more than six feet 
long by about three broad, and is passed between 
the legs and then hitched, both behind and before, 
through a string tied round the waist. This is 
the only covering worn, and at night it serves as a 
blanket, in which the Indian wraps himself from head 
to foot. The women have a very short petticoat, made 
of the same material, reaching nearly to the knees, and 
sometimes the addition of a square piece of cotton to 
cover the breasts. 

The huts or lodges of these Indians are constructed 
without any side walls, the roof being made to de- 
scend almost to the ground from a high pitch. 

One thing I remarked especially, that neither here 
nor at Blewfields, nor indeed on any part of the Mos- 
quito coast, was the hammock in perpetual use, as it 
is among the descendants of the Spaniards throughout 
the neighbouring country. However, as I never travel 
in a hot country without one of these most useful 
articles,* I soon caused mine to be hung up ; and then 
found that, from the slightness of the uprights and 
ridge pole, it was very doubtful if my weight did not 
bring down the whole structure ; certainly the weight 
of two of us would have done so, and, if I had swung 

* It is surprising that the hammock is not in general use everywhere ; 
it is the most wonderful restorer to tired nature, and no sort of bed in 
the world can compare with it for those just recovering from wounds 
or hurts. 


backwards and forwards violently, there is no doubt 
that the lodge would have been endangered. 

The custom of using the hammock is entirely abori- 
ginal ; it therefore follows that at the time of the dis- 
covery the Indian must have built stronger houses. 
Now, alas ! house and inmate are going together, and 
very soon not a vestige of either will remain. 

Talking to the inmates with a view of adding to my 
vocabulary, I asked their names. I found they had 
the same passion as that so common amongst their 
countrymen from end to end of the coast ; namely, 
assuming those of Englishmen. No doubt as loyal 
subjects they simply imitate their king, but, be that 
as it may, go wherever you choose on the Mosquito 
coast, there you will find such familiar appellations 
as Shepherd, Eobertson, Nelson, Hodgson, by which 
the natives are known, and my host in the "Woolwa 
hut was no exception to the rule. 







Before turning the head of my canoe down stream, 
I must give the information I obtained in respect to 
the general aspect of the river higher up, so far, at 
least, as pitpans can be used with advantage, namely, 
between Kisilala and a place called Carka, an Indian 
settlement on the right bank of the river, lying about 
six miles from the Javali mine. Throughout the 
whole distance the river course is thickly studded 
with rapids and falls (in one case more than a hun- 
dred feet high), while rocks and huge boulders, in 
more than one place, completely block it right across, 
hiding even the water from view. 

Around these falls the Indians make portages, and 
the smoothness with which they are worn shows how 
frequently they are used. In the first instance, the 
pitpan is unloaded and carried round to the upper 
water, and then the cargo is brought over and re- 



loaded ; this operation has to be repeated at each si- 
milar obstruction, but it is astonishing how dexte- 
rous the Indians are in this sort of work, so that the 
delay is not nearly as considerable as might be sup- 

The river banks are thickly clothed with trees of an 
infinite variety; the gigantic mahogany, which here 
abounds, the elegant wild cane, vulgarly called bamboo, 
the graceful tree-fern, all festooned with flowers and 
parasites, form a sort of verdant wall on each side, 
the difficulty of penetrating which, even with the 
sharp machete, only the initiated can understand. 

The tapir, wild hog, deer, coney, the turkey, quail, 
pigeon, and various kinds of birds, several species of 
fish, amongst which the shark* sometimes figures, 85 
miles from Blewfields lagoon, can be had for the hunt- 
ing ; although it must be admitted that tigers, pumas, 
and snakes on land, and the alligators in and out of 
the water, render caution necessary when in pursuit of 
game, and by some people might fairly be considered 
to spoil the sport. 

There are two or three very respectable Indian vil- 
lages on the banks, but the natives are not always at 
home, having a strong liking to migrate up the many 
little creeks and rivulets which empty themselves into 
the upper waters of the river. 

About halfway between Kisilala and Carka there 
is a great fall (about a hundred feet), the portage 

* Sharks and dolphins have been met with 95 miles up the Nile; 
the former are very numerous and voracious in the Lake of Nicaragua, 
119 miles from the sea. 


around which is the longest on the river, and requires 
considerable bodily exertion to overcome. 

The principal village, pronounced Woukee, is not 
so large as those higher up, but is considered more 
important; for here there are good-sized patches of 
land under cultivation, cassava, corn, cocoa, and cotton, 
all thriving well ; and besides these products, the In- 
dians have, strange to say (considering their thriftless 
nature), imported the breadfruit* and other useful 
trees, which altogether give their settlement quite a 
prosperous appearance. 

The houses are also somewhat better built than at 
Kisilala, and occupy sites on each side of the river; 
so that the approach, to a certain degree, is quite grand 
and imposing for Mosquito. 

The intimate acquaintance of these Indians with 
every nook and creek on their river, and their mar- 
vellous sagacity in threading the pathless wilds of 
their primeval forests, is perfectly astonishing ; and I 
should strongly recommend any future traveller in this 
part of the world to take the natives into his confi- 
dence, if he wants to map their country. He will pro- 
bably find their rough sketch quite correct, and receive 
as much assistance towards laying down the moun- 

# Besides its fruit, the tree produces a very valuable gum, used 
chiefly by the natives for making their canoes water-tight. When it 
first flows from an incision in the trunk it is very thin, but after stand- 
ing a short time, it forms a thick sediment at the bottom of the cala- 
bash ; it is then soaked in cold water, and, when wanted, well worked 
up in the hands until quite soft and sticky ; it is then applied to the 
crack or leak, and soon becomes as hard as cement, which in fact it 
resembles in appearance. 

2 e 2 


tains, creeks, and rivers, on the charts as Sir Edward 
Parry did from Igloolik, the famous Esquimaux. 

At Carka the settlement is rather larger than those 
lower down, and here the natives have a considerable 
sugar plantation. The sugar they make is very coarse, 
like crystallized molasses ; they eat it with their cassava 
cake and roasted plantains, and very nourishing it 
must be, judging by the amount of work the men can 
undergo with this as their sole food, for they often 
depend upon it alone on their longest journeys. 

From Carka to the Javali mine there is a narrow 
trail through the dense forest; certainly none but a 
native could find and follow it, and then you must 
travel in Indian file. The path, also, after the custom 
of the aborigines, leads over everything ; there is no 
attempt whatever to trace out as easy a road as pos- 
sible, so that the pathway between the river and the 
mines is rendered much more tedious and difficult by 
the hilly nature of the country over which it passes, 
up hill and down dale, the greater part of the way ; 
to say nothing of crossing a good-sized creek several 
times, the same which falls into the river close to 

The distance between Carka and the mines is pro- 
bably about six miles; but the many obstacles and 
vile nature of the road would, no doubt, make it appear 
three times as long. 

In following the course of the creek, a very easy 
track might probably be found, and, this well cleared 
and opened so as to admit of the passage of a mule, 
would bring the mine within two hours of the river, 

Chap. XXV.— B. P.] CARKA TO JAVALI. 421 

and thus open out a much quicker and safer route 
for sending bullion and letters to England than that 
which is now adopted. Take the one now in use, for 
example : viz. from Javali to San Ubaldo, on the Lake 
Nicaragua, by mules, say two days; San Ubaldo to 
San Carlos, the point where the lake empties itself 
into the river San Juan, say another three days ; San 
Carlos to Greytown, on the Atlantic, two days ; total, 
seven days ; whereas, by the Carka route the jour- 
ney to or from Greytown and the mines might be 
made in about five and a half days, namely, three 
from the Javali to Kisilala, and two and a half from 
thence, via Blewfields, to Greytown ; and which latter 
journey, moreover, would be performed at much less 
risk, cost, or chance of vexatious delay, now only too 
likely to occur in the passage through Mcaraguan 

In taking leave of the upper part of the Blewfields 
Eiver and the new gold district, I cannot refrain from 
commending an attentive study of this locality to 
those interested in mining, agriculture, colonization, 
or interoceanic communication. Here there is a field 
for any enterprising emigrant for some years to come, 
and here, I suspect, is the high-road by which Mca- 
raguan commerce, civilization, and prosperity will be 

Columbus himself had a strong opinion of the me- 
tallic wealth of the Mosquito Coast, as is evidenced by 
his earlier correspondence with his sovereigns; he 
firmly believed that he had discovered the Ophir of 


The following is an extract from one of his letters 
to the king of Spain on this subject, and is valuable 
as giving us a glimpse of that great discoverer's 
character, a mixture of sagacity and childlike simpli- 
city — making up a mind, — one of the greatest para- 
doxes recorded in history, singularly like that of 
Garibaldi in our own day. 

Extract of a letter written by Don Christopher Co- 
lumbus, Viceroy and Admiral of the Indies, to the Most 
Christian and mighty sovereigns the king and queen 
of Spain. Done in the Indies in the island of Jamaica 
on the 7th July, 1503. 

" Gold is the most precious of all commodities ; gold 
constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he 
needs in this world, as also the means of rescuing 
souls from Purgatory, and restoring them to the en- 
joyment of Paradise. They say that when one of the 
lords of Veraguas (Mosquito) dies, they bury all the 
gold he possessed with his body. There were brought 
to Solomon at one journey 666 quintals of gold 
(6600 lbs.) about £300,000 of our money, besides 
what the merchants and sailors brought, and that 
which was paid in Arabia. Of this gold he made 
200 lances and 300 shields, and the entablature which 
was above them was also of gold, and ornamented 
with precious stones. Many other things he made 
likewise of gold, and a great number of vessels of 
great size, which he enriched with precious stones. 

"This is related by Josephus in his chronicle ' De 
Antiquitatibus ; ' mention is also made of it in the 
Chronicles, and in the Book of Kings. Josephus 

Chap. XXV.-B. P.] OPHIR. 423 

thinks that this gold was found in the Aurea ; if it 
were so, I contend that these mines of the Aurea are 
one and the same with those of Veragua, which, as I 
have said before, extends westward twenty days' 
journey at an equal distance from the Pole and the 
Line. Solomon bought all of it ; gold, precious stones, 
and silver, but your Majesties need only send to seek 
them, to have them at your pleasure. David in his 
will left 3000 quintals of Indian gold (300,000 lbs.) 
nearly £6,000,000 of our money to Solomon to assist 
in building the Temple. According to Josephus, it 
came from these lands. Jerusalem and Mount Sion 
are to be rebuilt by the hands of Christians, as God has 
declared by the mouth of his prophet in the 14th 
Psalm. The Abbe Joaquin said that he who should 
do this was to come from Spain ! ! ! " 

Leaving Kisilala, we pushed out into the stream, at 
first paddling easily so as to clear the rapid without 
injuring the canoe, for the water is so shallow that 
even our light craft touched the bottom when shooting 
over the deepest part ; but the men, jumping up, made 
a firm and vigorous set on the rocks with their pad- 
dles, and without taking in a drop of water, forced 
her over, and thus we fairly started on our return to 
Blewfields just before midnight on the 29th. 

The night was beautiful, not a cloud to be seen; 
the stars shining brightly, as they know how to shine 
in the tropics ; but the dew was heavier than any I 
had ever seen before, so that I was glad of the shelter 
of the " chowpa," and could well bear my blanket 
besides, for it was very chilly. 


The light clothing of the men was speedily soaked, 
and they paddled with a will to keep themselves 
warm, so that I had the satisfaction of seeing the 
canoe making good way through the water. There 
was not a breath of wind, and only the splash of the 
paddles, the ceaseless buzzing of insects, and the 
croaking of the bullfrogs broke the stillness of the 
night, for the men did not seem to care about enliven- 
ing their labour with a song ; twenty-four hours' hard 
work with very little intermission, and a similar pro- 
spect before them, was apparently not considered by 
them conducive to merriment; and no doubt they 
would have relaxed their efforts and indulged in a 
nap, had they not been well aware that I slept with 
one eye open, and was not likely to let them rest in 
peace many minutes. 

The dawn of day was hailed by all of us with plea- 
sure. We were then off the Queen Mother's planta- 
tion, which we had taken about twelve hours to reach 
on the up voyage, so that there was a fair chance of 
arriving at Blewfields before dark, and thus enabling 
me to carry out my programme there. 

Morning light brought with it a double pleasure, 
especially to the Creoles, for, on the branch of a tree 
overhanging the river, was a fine iguana, stretched at 
full length, ready to enjoy the first rays of the rising 
sun. The creature, however, either saw us or was 
startled by the noise of the paddles, as there was 
barely time to get a flying shot at it before down it 
dropped from its perch, plump into the river, and was 
lost to view in a moment. The men paddled rapidly 

Chap. XXV.— B. P.] IGUANA. 425 

to the spot, more from impulse than in the hope of 
ever seeing it again (for the Creoles do not dive after 
the iguana and capture it under water, as the Indians 
delight in doing), when, to the surprise of all of us, 
it rose for air close to the canoe. It was instantly 
seized behind the head by a powerful black hand, and 
quickly dragged on board, where its legs were soon 
secured across its back, and it was rendered powerless 
beyond snapping viciously with its horrid jaws, lined 
with small but very sharp, triangular teeth, like those 
of an Ashantee. It also kept inflating the goitre-like 
appendage under the throat, expressive of rage and 
anger. It turned out to be a very large one, about 
four feet long ; and, as one of the Creoles expressed 
it, " He fine hen, sar ; plenty eggs, sar." Ugly as 
the reptile looked, I can vouch for its being delicious 
food, and its yellowish- coloured eggs, which, by the 
bye, were all yolk, very rich and delicate. 

The iguana is covered with dirty-looking little 
scales about the size of those of a salmon, and with 
its large crest extending nearly the whole way down 
its back, and an appendage under its throat, the former 
bristling up and the latter inflated by anger, it is cer- 
tainly as repulsive to look at as any creature breath- 
ing ; but then it is very justly looked upon as a valu- 
able article of food, although, in certain diseases, said 
to be most hurtful to the patient. The iguana is com- 
mon on the banks of rivers throughout Central Ame- 
rica, and sometimes attains a length of between five 
and six feet ; it lives chiefly on the trees, subsisting 
on fruit and leaves, although the Creoles assert that it 


often preys on fish, it being as mnch at home in the 
water as on land. The eggs are about the size of those 
of a pigeon ; it lays about a hundred, depositing them 
carefully in the sand, in a similar manner to that of 
the turtle. 

Soon after seven my men thought it high time to 
stop for breakfast, and as I entertained the same view, 
the canoe was soon brought to the bank at the planta- 
tion of Christopher Hudson, one of the most respect- 
able Creoles at Blewfields, and very intelligent be- 
sides. Here a fire was made in no time, by putting 
the burnt ends of three good- sized faggots together, 
lighting some tinder or dry moss between them and 
blowing the whole into a flame. Travellers in this 
country should never neglect to take with them from 
their last bivouac a supply of charred wood, so as to 
be independent of the fuel found on or near the camp- 
ing-place, which is generally wet or damp, especially 
in the rainy season. 

~No sooner was the fire well lit than the iguana was 
pitched upon it, and very shortly the scaly skin be- 
gan to crack and curl, so that it was easy work to 
scrape it all away, leaving the flesh bare. A small 
piece, toasted, was then handed to me ; but I liked it 
better stewed, and therefore directed that certain por- 
tions, together with the eggs, should be put into the 
camp -kettle for that purpose, and a most excellent 
meal we made somewhat later in the day. The iguana 
not only affords nutritious and agreeable food on the 
shortest notice, but keeps well besides, and for that 
reason is especially valuable in a hot climate, where 

Chap. XXV.— B. P.] HOW TO EIGHT " DE DEBBEL." 427 

meat so soon becomes unfit to eat. I have known 
iguanas with their legs tied across their backs, so that 
they could not escape, live in the bottom of a canoe, 
apparently without any inconvenience or pain, and 
certainly without falling away, for more than a week ; 
myself and party would have fared badly on one occa- 
sion, had we not fortunately laid in a goodly store of 
this species of live-stock. 

"When we re-embarked, I noticed much more 
sprightliness in the manner of the men, and they 
certainly paddled well for some distance. On asking 
the reason of this, I found it emanated from their full 
appreciation of the capital breakfast on their favourite 
food, which they had just had, and which they assured 
me made them stronger and braver, or as one of them 
said, " Plenty of guana, sar, I fight de debbel, sar ! " 

Just before nine we stopped at the watering-place 
used on our way up to Kisilala, and there filled our 
kettles and demijohn with the clearest and purest fresh- 
water imaginable, obtained from the holes which we 
had scooped out before. The water of the river itself 
was quite unfit to drink; indeed, I found barnacles 
(which, as is well known, cannot stand fresh water) 
within eight miles of the rapids, and, therefore, it is 
fair to infer that the stream is always more or less salt, 
as far as that point at least. 

"We had now a decided set of current against us, 
and also a strong breeze, so I discarded the chowpa, 
finding that it held a great deal of wind, and retarded 
the boat's progress very much. I was nearly roasted 
alive in consequence, for the day turned out one of the 


hottest I have ever felt in the West Indies, and even 
the natives were compelled to put a cool plantain leaf 
on their heads, an example I was very glad to follow, 
as the only means of averting a sunstroke. 

Opposite Mahogany Creek, we stopped at a very 
thriving plantation, and completely loaded the canoe 
with cassava, plantains, and sugar-cane, for the use 
and benefit of the families of my men, who, with 
characteristic independence, hardly thought it worth 
while to ask my permission. The canoe must have 
presented a very curious appearance to any one from 
the bank. She was nearly level with the water, lined 
round with uprights of sugar-cane, and filled inside 
with plantains ; four naked black men, each with a 
great green leaf on his head, paddled forward, while a 
gigantic steersman, in the same costume, sat right aft; 
a weary-looking white traveller, almost fainting with 
the heat, perched on the top of the plantains, his head 
crowned with leaves and a large cotton umbrella, 
completed this moving picture. 

In this way the rest of the voyage to Blewfields 
was performed ; and through the folly of pulling down 
the chowpa was only rendered endurable by the con- 
sumption of no end of sugar-cane, supplied to me by 
the aforesaid coxswain, who sliced off the outer skin 
most dexterously with his machete, and then split up 
the inside into strips about the size of one's finger, 
easy to chew. It is astonishing what an enormous 
quantity of sugar-cane disappears ; I am afraid to say 
how many yards I got through under the trying ex- 
posure of this day, but the cane consumed, if put to- 

Chap. XXV.— B. P.] SIMON. 429 

gether, certainly would have far exceeded twice the 
length of the canoe. 

A little before one we arrived at the place we had 
reached at daybreak yesterday; from here I found 
the river banks very low, scarcely three feet above 
the water, and a dead level as far as the eye could 

About eight miles below this we passed the plan- 
tation of Simon, an old and faithful follower of mine. 
There is a good water-hole here, and the place is 
famous in the annals of Blewfields, as the first pro- 
vision ground cleared by a Blewfields man. The 
situation is well chosen, there being a creek near, and 
some rising ground not far inland, to which settlers 
could easily resort in case of a heavy flood. Here the 
river assumes a very imposing appearance, being at 
least four hundred yards across and very deep. 

Lower down, the banks (if banks they can be 
called, being scarcely better than a swamp), were 
thickly covered with bamboo, or, more strictly speak- 
ing, wild cane, of considerable length and thickness ; 
but inland the ground rises much more than it does 
higher up, several very respectable hills making their 
appearance towards the mouth of the river. One 
especially, called Malapee, I should estimate to be 
at least four hundred feet in height. About this 
place, I observed that the so-called bamboo gave place 
to the Silico palm. 

Below this point no attempt has been made to clear 
any plantations, although no doubt there is abundance 
of excellent land to be had for the trouble of cutting 


a pathway from the river side some short distance in- 

At a quarter to five we arrived at the apex of the 
delta, in which perhaps there is as intricate naviga- 
tion as in any delta in the world ; however, my cox- 
swain knew every reach and turning, and kept on his 
course without the slightest deviation, although many 
tempting openings seemed to woo him to try a short 

Just about sunset we saw Schooner Cay, which is 
at the mouth of the river, and caught a glimpse of 
the Halfway Cay and the water of the Lagoon. At 
six we were clear of the river, the mouth of which 
consists of a series of cays. Cassava Cay was then 
in full view, as also the Bluff. 

We made a short cut inside Yellowtail Cay, and at 
seven, after rasping over a few oyster-beds, ran the 
canoe alongside the Missionary Pier, our starting- 
point, having been absent forty-five hours, out of 
which the men had worked seventeen and a half, going 
up the river, paddling, according to my estimate, 71 
miles, and seventeen hours in returning, which, at four 
miles an hour, would give 68 miles, or a mean of 69^ 
miles — say 70 miles — by the bends of the river, from 
Elewfields to Xisilala, but not more than 45 as the 
crow flies, thus allowing 25 for the very considerable 

The result of my journey may be summed up under 
the following heads : — 

1st. That the Blewfields Eiver is navigable for 65 
miles, that is to say, to about five miles below Kisilala, 


— that a well-manned canoe can reach that place 
within twenty-four hours, and a steamer in about 

2nd. That the water is brackish oyer the entire 
navigable part, with a soil on each bank of surpassing 
fertility, and being a dead level, with the prevailing 
trade-wind, loaded with saline particles, searching out 
every part, it would be in every respect suitable for the 
growth of cotton, especially that called Sea Island. 

3rd. That for this purpose there are many, many 
thousands of acres available at once, counting only one 
mile back on each side of the river. 

4th. That the patches of cultivation now existing 
could be so extended as to produce sufficient food- 
supplies to sustain a population numbering thousands 
within six months from the date of commencing opera- 
tions. The common practice on the river is to sow 
maize or Indian corn in May and reap it in August ; 
sugar-cane comes to perfection and attains an enor- 
mous size with but little care or attention, and I was 
astonished to find that cocoa, of which there is already 
a goodly number of trees, was raised without any of 
the care bestowed upon it in Nicaragua and Ecuador, 
not even a shade-tree, — " Madre de Cocoa," — consi- 
dered so essential in those countries, being planted to 
protect the young plant from the fierce rays of the sun 
during its earlier growth. 

And lastly, that a road, opened out from a short 
distance below Kisilala to the mining district of Chon- 
tales, is not only easy, but by using it in connection 
with the river and the sefa the distance to the gold 


and silver district would be materially shortened and 
its development rendered more easy and certain. 

Looking at all these facts, the Blewfields Eiver 
seems to offer every possible advantage as a field of 
emigration for the more industrious coloured popula- 
tion of the Southern States. The climate is healthy 
(yellow fever is unknown), and is indeed in every 
respect superior to that in the vicinity of the Missis- 
sippi. It is easily accessible, and has a ready market 
in all directions for every sort of produce. It must, 
however, be understood that I do not propose this 
locality as an emigration field for the uncontrolled 
negro ; he must fail to progress whenever and wher- 
ever he is cursed with absolute freedom, — but there is 
some hope for those who have a white intermixture, 
however slight, in their veins. To such men a rapid 
and certain fortune is in their own hands, by the exer- 
cise of a little patience and perseverance in this real 
land of promise ; and there is no denying that their de- 
parture from the United States would be a happy thing 
for all parties. They would soon learn to bless the day 
of their exodus, for certain extermination is the lot of 
those who remain. The Americans could not but feel 
that the departure of the irrepressible nigger* was a 
good riddance of what must ever remain an incongru- 
ous element ; but in Mosquito they would be hailed as 
countrymen, warmly welcomed, and really be placed 
in a position to do some good for themselves. 

The description just given of my last journey in 

* Any one with even a tinge of " colour " or the semblance of wool 
is open to be called a nigger in the tJnited States. 

Chap. XXV.— B. P.] DR. SEEMANN. 433 

Central America brings my Mosquito " Dottings " to 
a close. My reminiscences have necessarily been of a 
mixed nature. I have had to bear disappointment at 
the failure of hopes and plans, all the more bitter from 
the unqualified approval with which they have been 
received, and the abundant proof I have obtained of 
how easily my proposals could have been carried out ; 
nevertheless, I shall ever retain the liveliest interest 
in the progress of the country and the welfare of its 
people, and still cling to the hope that I may yet see 
the seed I have sown bearing fruit abundantly. 

In the preceding pages I have endeavoured, while 
discussing the Mosquito Coast, not to neglect its poli- 
tical history, commonly called the Mosquito Question, 
to which indeed I have rather given a prominence, as 
the matter is well worthy of study in connection with 
the present aspect of American relationship towards 
this country. 

I have now only to add a few words in connection 
with the authorship of this book. On finishing his 
part of it, at page 208, Dr. Seemann pays me the com- 
pliment of saying that he has embodied whole pages 
of my notes in his text. I can truly say that he has 
dressed them up so gracefully, that out of their ori- 
ginal homely garb their author can scarcely recognize 
them. Dr. Seemann was welcome to make any use 
he pleased of my notes, but I fear it was scarcely wise 
on my part to accept his invitation to joint author- 
ship ; and it requires, I can assure the reader, no small 
amount of courage on my part to face such a position ; 
I have, however, taken the plunge, and must abide the 



consequences. In conclusion, while I admit frankly 
the justice of the first part of the well-known French 
adage, I yet trust that the latter part will be found 
equally applicable to these pages : — 

"Les marins ^crivent mal, mais avec assez de can- 




Terms of Concession concluded in 1859 between His 
Majesty the King and Commander Bedford Pim, 
Eoyal Navy. 

Our friend Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pirn (a Com- 
mander, Her Britannic Majesty's Navy, at present com- 
manding Her Britannic Majesty's Ship ' Gorgon/ stationed 
in the West Indies), having called our attention to the ad- 
vantages which would result to our country of Mosquito by 
the construction of a railroad from Monkey Point to the 
Lake of Nicaragua as a certain, sure, and rapid means of 
transit from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and, having 
also given us to understand the practicability of his carrying 
out this project, either by his own exertions or means of 
certain capitalists of different nations, we have accepted the 
arrangements which he has submitted to us, and by these 
presents grant him exclusive power to take such steps as he 
may deem most expedient for the carrying out the above- 
mentioned project, subject to the conditions and under the 
responsibilities settled in the following Articles : — 

Article I. The grant of land shall be in perpetuity. 

Article II. The works shall be executed at the sole cost 
of the Company, and all the necessary land in my territories 
shall be granted free of cost, excepting the land at present 
belonging to private individuals. 

Article III. Stone or any material necessary for the 
works may be quarried in any part of our dominions with- 



out paying dues, and the right of free entry for all machines 
and materials imported from abroad for the purpose of carry- 
ing out the object of this grant is also granted. 

Article IV. We promise our true and hearty co-opera- 
tion and influence in facilitating the execution and carrying 
out of the present project. 

Article V. Finally, in consideration of the above liberal 
concession, the sum of 5 per cent, of the net profits shown 
by the balance sheet, without prejudice to the interest and 
dividends accruing from the shares which I reserve the right 
of taking upon my own account at their issue, and without 
any guarantee on my part for the execution of the works, 
shall be paid quarterly to me, the said George Augustus Fre- 
derick, King of Mosquito. 

(Signed) George Augustus Frederick. 

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of — 
(Signed) Gustavus Feurig, 

King's Magistrate, Blewfields. 
(Signed) J. H. Hooker, 

Magistrate, Blewfields. 
Recorded in the Mosquito Territory Land Grant Record 
Book at Blewfields, Mosquito, this 21st December, 1859. 
No. 59. (Signed) Willtam Rahn, 

These are to certify that the signatures appended to this 
document are in the true handwriting of His Majesty George 
Augustus Frederick, King of Mosquito, the Reverend Gus- 
tavus Feurig, the King's Magistrate, John H. Hooker, Esq., 
Magistrate, and William Rahn, Esq., Registrar, all of Blew- 
fields, Mosquito. 

In witness whereof I hereto set my hand and seal of office 
at the British Consulate, Greytown, Mosquito, this 5th day 
of January, in the year of our Lord 1860. 

(Signed) James Green, 
Seal. H.B.M. Consul. 


Terms oe Railway Concession concluded in 1865 between 
the Government oe Nicaragua and Captain Bedford 
Pim, op the English Royal Navy. 

Gazette of Nicaragua, Managua, 8th April, 1865. 

The President of the Republic to its inhabitants ; 

Know ye : That Congress has ordered as follows : 

The Senate and Chamber of Deputies of the Republic of 

Decree — Art. 1st. It ratines the concession entered into 
with Captain Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pirn, of the 
English Royal Navy, approved by the Government on the 
2nd instant, with the modifications contained in the present 
law ; the tenor of which is as follows : 

The undersigned, Licentiate Don Antonio Silva, Minister 
of Fomento, etc., of the Supreme Government of Nicaragua, 
Special Commissioner, on the one part, and Bedford Clap- 
perton Trevelyan Pirn, Captain in the English Royal Navy, 
for himself and for the Company that he will hereafter form, 
on the other part, have agreed to the following concession. 

Article I. The Republic of Nicaragua concedes to Captain 
Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pirn, of the English Royal 
Navy, and to the Company which he proposes to form, as 
also to the heirs, successors, administrators, or assigns of 
either, the right of establishing and working a transit 
between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from Monkey Point 
on the Atlantic to Corinto, or the Gulf of Fonseca, on the 
Pacific. The concessionaire or his representatives can con- 
struct the necessary works to establish the said transit either 
by a continuous railroad, or partly by railroad and partly by 
steamers, making use of the Lake Managua and that part 
of Lake Nicaragua comprised to the north of a line drawn 
from Point Tule on the coast of Chontales, to the islets 
called " Corrales de Piedra," on the coast of Granada. 

Article II. The Republic concedes also to Captain Pirn, 
Company, and their successors, the exclusive privilege for 
establishing the said interoceanic transit, which privilege is 


intended only within the territory of the Republic situated 
between said interoceanic route and a line drawn parallel to 
it, twenty leagues to the north ; and, on the south, the 
space comprehended between the same route and another 
line drawn from Point Tule to the islets called " Corrales de 
Piedra," on the coast of Granada, and from thence to Point 
.Desolada, on the Pacific ; and the right of preference is also 
conceded for the establishment of any other railroads which 
may be proposed. 

Aeticle III. It also concedes to them : — 

1. The right to make canals, wet and dry docks, graving 
docks, wharves, landing-places, stations, warehouses, coal 
depots, hotels, buildings, and electric telegraphs in connec- 
tion with the transit route. 

2. The right of expropriation, in conformity with the laws 
of the Republic, of the lands possessed by private individuals 
and municipalities, required for the works of the railway, and 
also of four square miles alternatively, taking the rails for a, 
centre, so that the intervals of said lands remain unexpro- 
priated, except in the case of municipalities, when the only 
power shall be to expropriate the lands necessary for the 
railroad and its accessory works strictly necessary. The 
respective authorities shall give effect to the expropriation, 
without any delay prejudicial to the enterprise, the corre- 
sponding value of the lands and damages as settled by experts 
named by both parties having been paid, in accordance with 
the intrinsic value, without respect to that which may be 
attained by the vicinity of the railway. 

3. The public lands over which the track of the railroad 
will pass, and necessary for its works, as also in freehold, 
gratuitously, alternate lots of said lands of four square miles, 
taking the rails for a centre, the interposing lots remaining 
in possession of the Republic ; but it is agreed that on the 
extremities of the route, whether the lands be governmental 
or private, the enterprise shall only have a right to a square 
mile situated on one side of the railroad, in order that those 
which may be on the opposite side remain in the possession 


of the Government or of whoever may legitimately own them, 
and it is moreover stipulated that in case of being public 
lands, the Government and the enterprise shall have the 
mutual right of obtaining by way of exchange such portion 
of land as it or they may need on the opposite side, the 
former for public works, and the latter for the works of the 
railroad and its accessory ones ; but should the lands belong 
to private^ individuals, then, and for such object, the Govern- 
ment and the enterprise shall use the right of expropriation 
of the portion of land which may be required by them on 
the opposite side, at their own cost. 

4. And lastly, it concedes to them in the same way three 
lots of ten leagues square each, of public unoccupied lands, 
with all its natural products situated respectively in the 
departments of Chontales, Matagalpa, and New Segovia, of 
which lands they shall dispose in freehold, except in the case 
of minerals, which they shall enjoy according to the laws on 
the matter binding on the Republic, such lands shall be 
disposed in such a manner that each lot divided into smaller 
ones of one league square shall include as many others 
interposed between them which shall remain in possession of 
the Government. The choice and situation of said lands 
shall be made by mutual consent of both interested parties 
or by the tribunal of arbitrators which shall be designated 
in Article XI. in case of disagreement. The possession of 
said lands shall take place by third parts, the enterprise 
receiving the first when ten miles of railroad at each 
extremity of the route has been constructed, another third 
when half the line is finished, and the last when the works 
of the transit shall be duly completed. 

Article IY. The works of the interoceanic transit must 
be commenced at each of its extremes, within two years, to 
be counted from the final ratification of the present stipula- 
tion, it being understood that the through transit shall be 
concluded at the expiration of the term of ten years, the two 
years conceded for the commencement included ; and it shall 
be considered as definitely completed when passengers and 


goods can be transported from ocean to ocean whether ex- 
clusively on a continuous railroad or by the help of steamers 
belonging to the enterprise which shall navigate the inland 
waters of the Republic. 

Article V. The concessions granted in the present con- 
vention as also the privilege of preference and right of work- 
ing the interoceanic transit shall be in force for seventy 
years, to be counted from the conclusion of the works ; at ■ 
the end of fifty years the Republic of Nicaragua shall have 
the right to buy up or commute the railway for the value 
which it may then have according to the just valuation of 
experts appointed in the manner expressed in Article XI. ; 
and, at the end of seventy years, that is to say, at the end 
of the contract, the commutation shall also take place by the 
payment of two-thirds of the valuation which it may then 
receive. In the event of the Republic not making such re- 
demption in the way and on the terms stipulated, the present 
convention shall hold good for ninety-nine years. During 
the term of seventy years aforesaid, the transit enterprise 
shall be formally bound to pay annually to the Government 
of the Republic one and a half per cent, upon the gross 
earnings gained by the said enterprise arising from any 
traffic of passengers or goods transported by the line, which 
payment shall be made in accordance with the books of said 
enterprise and with the concurrence of the fiscal agent whom 
the Government may appoint. It is stipulated, moreover, 
that during the twenty-nine years of the aforesaid prorogue, 
the Government shall have the right to receive a quota 
double to that of the agreed one, that is to say three per 
cent, per annum upon the gross earnings of the enterprise. 
At the end of the ninety -nine years herein stipulated, the 
interoceanic route, with all its principal and accessory works, 
real or moveable, and other materials, shall pass to the do- 
minion and power of the Republic, in good condition for 
service, without any remuneration, compensation, or subsidy 

Article VI. As it may be convenient to the Republic to 


open a communication between the two lakes, by means of 
a canal at Tipitapa, it is expressly stipulated that the rail- 
road, on crossing the same place, shall not be an obstacle 
for the realization of said canal or to its navigation. 

Article VII. During the term of these concessions all 
locomotives, carriages, trains, machinery, and materials of 
any description whatever, destined for the construction and 
'use of the railroad and of its accessory works, as also all the 
fuel which may be destined for objects of the enterprise, 
shall be free from any ordinary or extraordinary imposts, 
to which effect the administrator of the port having pre- 
viously examined said objects, shall issue the corresponding 
attestation of their franchise; also the persons employed 
and engaged in the service of the transit shall equally be 
exempt from any military, civil, and municipal service ; but, 
that the Nicaraguans may enjoy these exceptions, it is ne- 
cessary they should obtain the acquiescence (jpase) of the 
authorities of the Republic in the way and form which the 
Government shall determine ; it being understood that the 
premises and possessions depending upon the transit enter- 
prise shall not afford an asylum and protection to criminals, 
respecting whom the action of the authorities shall be 
prompt and speedy ; and, moreover, the use of a foreign 
flag shall not be permitted in such establishments, except 
by persons representing foreign governments. 

Article VIII. The persons, goods, and mails in transit 
from ocean to ocean shall be free from any interference and 
impost, also the ships which may arrive at or start from the 
ports of the line shall be free from any anchorage, tonnage, 
or any other dues, and the transit enterprise shall have en- 
tire liberty of action to establish the regulations which they 
may deem necessary in their diverse operations, so that they 
in every case shall be responsible for any abuse or damage 
to persons or property. Bub the rights of the Republic are 
reserved to make regulations with regard to persons who 
may come to reside in the country ; to determine what troops 
and munitions of war belonging to nations not authorized 


by treaties may pass through its territory ; what mails may 
be distributed within the same; and, lastly, to impose the 
usual duties of import upon any articles destined for inland 
consumption, in which the enterprise shall loyally assist the 

Article IX. The mails of the Republic and the public 
offices, also the changes of garrisons which may take place 
in the direction of the route, shall be transported by the 
railway free of charge along the whole track of the line ; but 
it is especially stipulated that, inasmuch as the trains must 
make their trips at fixed days and hours, the transit shall 
not suffer any delay or impediment in any case and under 
any circumstances. 

Article X. The usual public roads, whether highways or 
byeways, passed over by the transit line shall not be occu- 
pied nor cut without being conveniently reconstructed to 
the satisfaction of the Government. 

Article XI. Any questions, disputes, or differences which 
may arise between the enterprise and any inhabitant of the 
Republic shall be subject to the decision of the judges and 
tribunals of Nicaragua, and those arising between the Go- 
vernment and the enterprise shall be resolved within the 
Republic by three persons of known probity, natives or 
foreigners, chosen one by each party, and the third by the 
two already nominated, — the vote, sentence or decree of a 
majority of said Arbitrators being decisive without any fur- 
ther recourse. 

Article XII. The transit enterprise shall never, either by 
themselves or through their heirs, successors, administrators, 
or assigns, at any time and under any circumstances, alienate 
the rights conceded to them by the present convention, nor 
shall they alienate the works of the railroad, docks, or other 
hydraulic works to any foreign government, nor to any 
Company or individual without the express consent of Ni- 

Article XIII. Should the works of the Interoceanic 
Transit be unfinished at the expiration of the time fixed in 


the present stipulation, the benefit and rights conceded to 
the enterprise shall be forfeited, unless they are impeded by 
fortuitous or unforeseen causes, as deadly and desolating" 
epidemics, earthquakes, or inundations, civil or national 
wars, and other cases of this description, in which cases the 
enterprise shall enjoy an extension of double the time of the 
interruption, provided that notice be given by the enter- 
prise, and the Government acknowledge the cause as suffi- 
cient for such interruption, or, in case of disagreement, the 
tribunal of Arbitrators established in Article XI. ; but if, at 
the expiration of all the terms assigned in the present sti- 
pulation, the works of the transit are not finished, then this 
convention shall be considered as definitely annulled, and 
the existing works in said transit, with its accessories and 
dependencies, shall pass to the dominion and absolute power 
of the Republic without any indemnification whatever. 

Article XIY. In view of the treaties made with France 
on the 11th of April, 1859, and with Great Britain on the 
11th of February, 1860, the Republic of Nicaragua on the one 
part, and Captain Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pirn, of the 
English Royal Navy, and his legitimate representatives on 
the other, accept and confirm the formal guarantee contained 
in said treaties, to maintain the neutrality and innocent use 
of the transit across the Republic, submitting the enterprise 
to the conditions laid down in the aforesaid treaties ; and 
the Republic makes for its part the most solemn declaration 
to comply with the conditions that the above-mentioned 
conventions of 1859 and 1860 have imposed upon it. 

Article XY. The present stipulation shall be submitted 
to the approval of the supreme Government and ratification 
of legislative power, which, being obtained without any 
amendment, shall be binding immediately on both contract- 
ing parties, and in case of being amended shall be definitely 
binding on the said parties from the date on which Captain 
Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pirn accepts and ratifies it ; 
and in either case by the fact of the definite ratification the 
present contract shall be substituted for that of the railroad 


contract of the 5th March, 1864, made between the supreme 
Government of the Republic and said Captain Bedford Clap- 
perton Trevelyan Pirn. 

In witness whereof, we sign the above in duplicate in 
Managua, the 1st of March, a.d. 1865. 

(Signed) Antonio Silva, 

(Signed) Bedford C. T. Pim, 

Commander, Royal Navy. 

The Government, having the above contract before it, 
and finding it in conformity with the given instructions, 
approves and sends it to Congress for ratification. 

Managua, 2 March, 1865. 
Tomas Martinez. (L. S.) 
The Minister of Fomento, etc., and acting Minister of 
Home and Foreign Affairs. 

Antonio Silva. (L. S.) 

Art. 2nd. — Article I. will read as it is written, adding the 
following : " And Captain Pim declares that neither the 
railway nor the exclusive privilege granted to him within 
the limits expressed in this concession can in any way be an 
obstacle to the opening an interoceanic canal, and it is 
agreed that the right of preference for the construction of 
any other railway is only to be understood for interoceanic 
railways from the Atlantic to the Pacific." 

Art. 3rd. — Paragraph 2nd of Article III. is altered in 
these terms : " The right of expropriation according to the 
laws of the Republic of that portion of land which may be 
required for the works of the railroad on lands possessed by 
private persons, cities, and towns ; but it is understood that 
only that portion can be expropriated which is strictly neces- 
sary for the iron road and the accessory works, as docks, 
canals, piers, wharfs, coal depots, stations, hotels, and electric 
telegraphs, as well as the expropriation of timber, stone, and 
other raw materials which could be used in the said works, 
but this right is limited to a strip of one mile in breadth on 


each side of the railroad, without prejudice to the dominion 
and free use of the owner over all the rest of the said strip 
of land which may belong to him ; with the obligation to 
Captain Pirn or his legitimate representative, of previously 
paying to the owner for the land and materials expropriated, 
and for the damages caused according to the just valuation 
of exports at their natural value, without reference to the 
railroad : but in inhabited places public edifices cannot be 
expropriated unless with the consent of those who can 
legally grant it." 

Art. 4th. — At the end of paragraph 4 of the same Article 
III. shall be added : " Which lands shall be used by the con- 
cessioners and settlers in accordance with the laws of the 
country. And it is explained for the effect of these conces- 
sions that the measure of each league is understood to be 
5000 varas of 84 centimetres." 

Art. 5th. — Article Y. shall be read as it has been written, 
adding the following clause : The good state of service of the 
railway, with its accessories and other works adjacent, is 
guaranteed by ^2,000,000, which Captain Pirn, or his 
legitimate representative, must deposit in the Treasury of 
the Eepublic five years before the termination of the said 
twenty-nine years. 

Art. 6th.— The XIV. will read as follows :— 

In view of the treaties made with Spain on the 25th July, 
1850, with France on the 11th April 1859, and with Great 
Britain on the 11th February, 1860, Commander Bedford 
Clapperton Trevelyan Pim, of the English Royal Navy, in 
his own name and that of his successors and. assigns, accepts 
and confirms the formal guarantee which the said treaties 
contain of maintaining the independence, neutrality, and 
innocent use of the transit across the Republic, and submits 
the enterprise to the conditions established in said treaties. 

Given in the saloon of sessions of the Senate. — Managua, 
March 14th, 1865.— Mariano Montealegre, S. P.— A. Murillo, 
S. S. — Federico Solorzano S. S. — The Executive Power. — 
Saloon of Sessions of the Chamber of Deputies. — Managua, 


March 19, 1865.— Juan B. Sacasa, D. P.— M. Ubina, D. S. 
— Florencio Miranda, D. S. 

In conformity with Article XV., I accept and ratify the 
alterations made in the present concession by the Sovereign 
Congress. — Managua, 22nd March, 1865. 

Bedford C. T. Pim. (L.S.) 
By these presents, I execute the above. — National Palace, 
— Managua, 22nd March, 1865. 

Thomas Martinez. 
The Minister of Foreign Affairs. — 

Antonio Silva. (L.S.) 

Treaty between Her Majesty and the Republic of Hon- 

Indians, and the Rights and Claims of British 

Signed at Comayagua, November 28, 1859. 
[Ratifications exchanged at Comayagua, April 18, I860.] 

Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great 
Britain and Ireland, and the Republic of Honduras, being 
desirous to settle in a friendly manner certain questions in 
which they are mutually interested, have resolved to con- 
clude a Treaty for that purpose, and have named as their 
Plenipotentiaries, that is to say : 

Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great 
Britain and Ireland, Charles Lennox Wyke, Esquire, Com- 
panion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Her 
Britannic Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister 
Plenipotentiary on a special mission to the Republics of 
Central America ; 

And his Excellency the President of the Republic of 
Honduras, Don Francisco Cruz, Political Chief of the 
Department of Comayagua ; 

Who, after having communicated to each other their 
respective full powers, found in good and due form, have 
agreed upon and concluded the following Articles : — 


Article I. Taking into consideration the peculiar geo- 
graphical position of Honduras, and in order to secure the 
neutrality of the Islands adjacent thereto, with reference to 
any railway or other line of interoceanic communication 
which may be constructed across the territory of Honduras 
on the mainland, Her Britannic Majesty agrees to recognize 
the Islands of Ruatan, Guanaca, Elena, Utile, Barbarete, and 
Morat, known as the Bay Islands, and situated in the Bay 
of Honduras, as a part of the Republic of Honduras. 

The inhabitants of the said Islands shall not be disturbed 
in the enjoyment of any property which they may have 
acquired therein, and shall retain perfect freedom of religious 
belief and worship, public and private, but remaining m all 
other respects subject to the laws of the Republic. If any 
of them should wish to withdraw from the Islands, they 
shall be at full liberty to do so, to dispose of their fixed or 
other property as they may think fit, and to take with them 
the proceeds thereof. 

The Republic of Honduras engages not to cede the said 
Islands, or any of them, or the right of sovereignty over such 
Islands, or any of them, or any part of such sovereignty, to 
any Nation or State whatsoever. 

Article II. Her Britannic Majesty engages, subject to the 
conditions and engagements specified in the present Treaty, 
and without prejudice to any question of boundary between 
the Republics of Honduras and Nicaragua, to recognize as 
belonging to and under the sovereignty of the Republic of 
Honduras, the country hitherto occupied or possessed by the 
Mosquito Indians within the frontier of that Republic, 
whatever that frontier may be. 

The British Protectorate of that part of the Mosquito 
territory shall cease three months after the exchange of the 
ratifications of the present Treaty, in order to enable Her 
Majesty's Government to give the necessary instructions for 
carrying out the stipulations of said Treaty. 

Article III. The Mosquito Indians in the district recog- 
nized by Article II. of this Treaty as belonging to and under 


the sovereignty of the Kepublic of Honduras, shall be at 
liberty to remove, with their property, from the territory of 
the Republic, and to proceed whithersoever they may desire; 
and such of the Mosquito Indians who remain within the 
said district shall not be disturbed in the possession of any 
lands or other property which they may hold or occupy, and 
shall enjoy, as natives of the Republic of Honduras, all 
rights and privileges enjoyed generally by the natives of the 

The Republic of Honduras being desirous of educating 
the Mosquito Indians, and improving their social condition in 
the district so occupied by them, will grant an annual sum 
of five thousand dollars in gold or silver, for the next ten 
years, for that purpose, to be paid to their headman in the 
said district ; the payment of such annual sum being 
guaranteed to them by a mortgage on all woods and other 
natural productions (whatever they may be) of the State 
lands in the Bay Islands and the Mosquito territory. 

These payments shall be made in half-yearly instalments 
of two thousand five hundred dollars each, the first of which 
payments shall be made six months after the exchange of 
the ratifications of the present Treaty. 

Article IV. Whereas British subjects have by grant, 
lease, or otherwise, heretofore obtained from the Mosquito 
Indians, interests in various lands situated within the district 
mentioned in the preceding Article, the Republic of Hon- 
duras engages to respect and maintain such interests ; and 
it is further agreed that Her Britannic Majesty and the 
Republic shall, within twelve months after the exchange of 
the ratifications of the present Treaty, appoint two Com- 
missioners, one to be named by each party, in order to 
investigate the claims of British subjects arising out of such 
grants or leases, or otherwise; and all British subjects 
whose claims shall by the Commissioners be pronounced well 
founded and valid, shall be quieted in the possession of their 
respective interests in the said lands. 

Article V. It is further agreed between the Contracting 


Parties, that the Commissioners mentioned in the preceding 
Article shall also examine and decide upon any British 
claims upon the Government of Honduras that may be sub- 
mitted to them, other than those specified in that Article, 
and not already in a train of settlement ; and the Republic 
of Honduras agrees to carry into effect any agreements for 
the satisfaction of British claims already made, but not yet 
carried into effect. 

Article VI. The Commissioners mentioned in the pre- 
ceding Article shall meet in the city of Guatemala, at the 
earliest convenient period after they shall have been 
respectively named, and shall, before proceeding to any 
business, make and subscribe a solemn declaration, that 
they will impartially and carefully examine and decide, to 
the best of their judgment, and according to justice and 
equity, without fear, favour, or affection to their own 
country, all the matters referred to them for their decision ; 
and such declaration shall be entered on the record of their 

The Commissioners shall then, and before proceeding to 
any other business, name some third person to act as an 
arbitrator or umpire in any case or cases in which they may 
themselves differ in opinion. If they should not be able to 
agree upon the selection of such a person, the Commissioner 
on either side shall name a person ; and in each and every 
case in which the Commissioners may differ in opinion as to 
the decision which they ought to give, it shall be determined 
by lot which of the two persons so named shall be arbitrator 
or umpire in that particular case. The person or persons so 
to be chosen shall, before proceeding to act, make and sub- 
scribe a solemn declaration, in a form similar to that which, 
shall already have been made and subscribed by the Com- 
missioners, which declaration shall also be entered on the 
record of the proceedings. In the event of the death, 
absence, or incapacity of such person or persons, or of his or 
their omitting or declaring, or ceasing to act as such arbi- 
trator or umpire, another person or persons shall be named 

2 G 


as aforesaid to act as arbitrator or umpire in his or their 
place or stead, and shall make and subscribe such declaration 
as aforesaid. 

Her Britannic Majesty and the Kepublic of Honduras 
hereby engage to consider the decision of the Commissioners 
conjointly, or of the arbitrator or umpire, as the case may 
be, as final and conclusive on the matters to be referred to 
their decision ; and they further engage forthwith to give 
full effect to the same. 

Article VII. The Commissioners and the arbitrator or 
umpire shall keep an accurate record, and correct minutes or 
notes, of all their proceedings, with the dates thereof, and 
shall appoint and employ a clerk or other persons to assist 
them in the transaction of the business which may come 
before them. 

The salaries of the Commissioners shall be paid by their 
respective Governments. The contingent expenses of the 
Commission, including the salary of the arbitrator or umpire, 
and of the clerk or clerks, shall be defrayed in equal halves 
by the two Governments. 

Article YIII. The present Treaty shall be ratified, and 
the ratifications shall be exchanged at Comayagua, as soon 
as possible within six months from this date. 

In witness whereof the respective Plenipotentiaries have 
signed the same, and have affixed thereto their respective 

Done at Comayagua, the twenty-eighth day of November, 
in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and 

C. Lennox Wyke. (L.S.) 
Francisco Cruz. (L.S.) 

Proceedings at a Public Meeting held at Blewpields 
1st May, 1867. 

At a Public Meeting held at the King's House, Blewfields, 
Mosquito, on the first day of May, 1867, Present, Mr. Alfred 


Hooker, M.E.C. ; Mr. Nicholas Casa-Nueva, M.E.C. ; Mr. 
Basil Hodgson, M.E.C. ; Captain Hooker, Secretary, E.C. ; 
Mr. David Izrang ; Mr. John Dixon ; Charles Hodgson, 
M.E.C; Mr. Wickham ; Mr. Witroch, senior Magistrate; 
Captain Pirn, and about seventy inhabitants. Mr. Alfred 
Hooker was called to the chair. 

The Chairman said that the Meeting had been summoned 
to consider two points ; one was in reference to a proclama- 
tion which had just been received from Mr. T. J. Martin, the 
other was to hear Captain Pirn, who wished to inform them 
what was going on in Nicaragua with regard to Mosquito, 
so that they might decide what was best to be done. 

The Chairman then asked Captain Hooker, Secretary, E.C. 
to read the proclamation, which he did, and all present ex- 
pressed their disapproval of the same. 

(A True Copy.) J. Paton, Vice- Consul. 

u Proclamation. 

" To all the Authorities and Magistrates, greeting. By vir- 
tue of the power in me vested as the guardian and legal ad- 
viser of the chief of Mosquito and chief justice of Mosquito 
Eeservation, I forbid all negotiation, or attempt of the same, 
as regards Mosquito matters, until the meeting of the chiefs 
and Indians in full council, which cannot take place before 
September next ; and I do hereby warn you all to have no- 
thing to do with any person or persons whomsoever, as no one 
has any authority from the English Government or Nica- 
ragua, to enter into any negotiations with regard to Mos- 
quito matters, except his Excellency, Mr. Corbett, Her Bri- 
tannic Majesty's Minister to Central America. 

" April 25th, a.d., 1867. 

" (Signed) T. J. Martin. 

" Chief Justice of Mosquito. 
" Witness, 

" James Green, H. B. M. Consul." 
The Chairman then stated that he had been very lately at 
Greytown, and had seen Mr. Martin every day, and besides, 
he had a long conversation with Mr. Green, and not a word 

2 g2 

452 ArPENDix. 

was said to him about the proclamation, so that it was an 
easy matter to name the person against whom it was aimed ; 
they were not children, however, and would not be treated 
in such a way ; the proclamation had been sent to him to fix 
to his door, but he would do nothing of the sort. 

The first resolution was then read, and a full explanation 
given ; it was passed unanimously, every hand being held 
up in favour of it. 

" Resolved. — That this meeting consider the document 
written by T. J. Martin under date 25th April, 1867, and 
forwarded to Blewfields as a proclamation, a most unwar- 
rantable and improper attempt on his part to control the 
people of this Reservation, and they deny his right to act in 
any such way towards them. 

"This meeting also express their regret to see the signa- 
tures of Mr. Green and Mr. Paton affixed to such a docu- 
ment, even as witnesses ; the former gentleman, as Her Ma- 
jesty's representative, ought rather to use his name as a 
guard and defence of the interests of Mosquito, than make 
himself a party to try and prevent free discussion amongst 
the people who are only anxious to protect their rights and 

The Chairman said that he now begged Captain Pirn to 
give them any information in his power respecting what 
was going on in Nicaragua or elsewhere in reference to 

Captain Pirn said that when he arrived at Greytown in 
February last, he conversed with Mr. T. J. Martin in respect 
to Mosquitian affairs. Mr. Martin offered Captain Pirn the 
guardianship of the young chief, which Captain Pirn de- 
clined, on the ground that he had not time to pay proper 
attention to so responsible an office. 

Mr. Martin informed Captain Pirn that he had been offered 
a certain sum of money to use his influence to bring about 
the annexation of Mosquito to Nicaragua, but that he had 
declined, although much pressed by the Government of Ni- 
caragua, some of the members of which Government had 
come to his house at Greytown for that purpose. 


After some further conversation, Mr. Martin, on Captain 
Pirn's suggestion, agreed to write Captain Pirn a letter ask- 
ing him to try and bring about a settlement of the dispute 
existing between Nicaragua and Mosquito ; this letter, after 
various alterations made by Captain Pirn, was written by 
Mr. Martin under date of the 15th February, 1867. Mr. 
Martin could not complete it on the 14th. 

Captain Pirn read Mr. Martin's letter, addressed to him, 
to the meeting : — 

(True Copy.) " San Juan del Norte, 

"February 15, 1867. 
" Captain Bedford C. T. Pirn, R.N. 

" Dear Sir, — As an old friend of the Mosquito Indians, 
I avail myself of your opportune arrival at this place to ask 
your assistance and advice in relation to the present difficul- 
ties now existing between Nicaragua and the Mosquito chief 
and his people. Nicaragua declines to acknowledge the new 
chief William Henry Clarence, who is the nephew of George 
Augustus Frederick, and who was the legal and legitimate 
heir to the chieftainship of the Mosquito Indians, and who 
has been legally elected and freely acknowledged by all the 
people of the Reservation. The Government of Nicaragua 
also refuses to pay the subsidy, due under the treaty of Ma- 
nagua, to the chief of Mosquito and his authority. Nica- 
ragua is wrong in this matter, and as you have business 
with that Government, it might be in your power to facili- 
tate the settlement of these difficulties now existing be- 
tween Nicaragua and Mosquito. I am the guardian and 
legal adviser of the chief, and willing on his behalf and on 
behalf of his people to render you any assistance in my 
power, to bring about a satisfactory arrangement ; by the 
doing of which you will be ever gratefully recognized by the 
chief of Mosquito and the people as well as by 

" Your friend and obedient servant, 

" (Signed) T. J. Martin. 

" Etc. etc." 

Captain Pirn told Mr. Martin that of course no arrange- 


merit whatever could be concluded without the full and en- 
tire consent of the Mosquitians, and Mr. Martin replied that 
he would call together the Executive Council for that pur- 

After careful consideration of his movements in the inte- 
rior, Captain Pirn fixed the 20th April as the date when he 
could meet the Executive Council at Blewfields, and Mr. 
Martin agreed to call them together at that time. 

Mr. Martin said that he required some money, and Cap- 
tain Pirn gave him a sum between $100 and $150. 

On Captain Pirn's arrival at Grey town on the 24 th April, 
1867, he found that Mr. Martin had made no attempt to call 
the Executive Council together, he had not been to Blew- 
fields since last May (eleven months) and had not seen his 
charge, the young chief, from that date. Captain Pirn was 
naturally angry at this combined neglect of important inter- 
ests, especially as he brought the news from Granada that 
the Nicaraguan Government was taking active steps in the 
Mosquito question, and had appointed two eminent men, viz. 
General Martinez and Don Antonio Silva, to proceed to 
London at once ; the first as minister, the second as secre- 
tary, to lay the matter before the English Government, and 
which information ought, of course, to be made known in 
Mosquito immediately, so that steps might be taken to re- 
present Mosquito also, in London. 

Captain Pirn spoke very plainly both to Mr. Green and 
Mr. Martin in respect to these matters, and on the evening 
of the 25th, started for Blewfields in the " Messenger/' by 
which opportunity Mr. Martin had sent the proclamation 
quite unknown to Captain Pirn, and which he considered 
the first resolution dealt with in a very proper manner and 

Captain Pirn requested Mr. Green and Mr. Martin to 
accompany him in the " Messenger " to Blewfields, but the 
former said that he could not come, and the latter stated 
that he had an auction to attend to. 

Captain Pirn said that he could not conclude without 


expressing his admiration of the noble river at the back of 
their town, from exploring which he had just returned. 

He was astonished that those who professed to be friends 
of Mosquito had not long ago made known the vast resources 
which the river Blewfields afforded for immigration, it was 
universally admitted that population was all that was re- 
quired to make Mosquito prosperous and happy, why then 
had not the offer been made to the Government of the 
United States to receive with open arms those of the 
coloured people of the South who chose to come and settle ? 
By so doing, they would have made friends on all sides; the 
Government of the United States would be delighted to see 
a fruitful source of discord removed from their midst if one 
might judge from a speech of the late Mr. Abraham Lincoln 
at Washington, on the 14th August, 1862, in reference to 
the emigration of the coloured race ; and the families them- 
selves coming to settle in Mosquito would find themselves 
amongst a people speaking the same language, professing 
the same religion, and enjoying the advantage of schools for 
children, just as in the country they had left, and in which 
they would participate without let or hindrance of any sort. 
He was sure that a hearty welcome would be extended to 
them, and he hoped that when the Executive Council next 
met this subject would meet with the attention it deserved. 

The Chairman then read the second resolution as follows : — 

" Resolved. — That this meeting request Captain Bedford 
Pirn, R.N., to protect and defend the interests of the in- 
habitants of the Mosquito Reservation in such manner as 
shall seem to him best, and those members of Council now 
present, pledge themselves to send him a regular authority 
from the Executive Council so to act as soon as said Council 
meet in session." 

— which was put and carried unanimously, every hand being 
held up for it. 

The third resolution was then read by Captain Pirn and its 
meaning explained. The Chairman said that, respecting the 
ceding of land to the emigrants, he was not certain that this 


could be done without an infringement of the terms of the 

Captain Hooker observed that they had the undoubted 
right to grant leases, and in this case might do so for 99 
years, but that it was time enough to raise the question 
when the matter was before the Executive Council. 

The Resolution, as follows : — 

"Resolved. — That copies of the minutes of this meeting 
be forwarded to each member of the Executive Council 
immediately, and that Captain Bedford Pirn's suggestion of 
throwing open the Reservation to a coloured emigration from 
the Southern States of America be brought before the 
Executive Council at their next meeting." 
— was then put and carried unanimously. 

Captain Pirn then proposed a vote of thanks to the 
Chairman for the fearless and straightforward manner in 
which he had acted. This was carried unanimously. 

The Chairman, in reply, said that he thanked the meeting, 
and begged them to give their thanks also to Captain Pirn, 
but for whom they would have been kept in darkness as 
before on the question affecting their very existence, or 
kept quiet by Mr. Martin, who was always talking about the 
Foreign Office, and what would be done, but they had now 
been waiting for years for something to be done, and nothing 
had even been attempted in spite of Mr. Martin's fair 

Captain Pirn said he was very glad to find such unanimity 
amongst them, and that he would do his best to be of use to 
Mosquito ; it was quite true that their affairs had been 
shamefully mismanaged, but the people must now look after 
their own interests, and that sharply ; he could only say to 
them that God helps those who help themselves. 
The Meeting then terminated. 

(Signed) T. A. Hooker, Chairman. 



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rector, Don Jose Leon Sandoval. P. F. de la Eocha. 

1848. Treaty between the United States and New Granada. 

1848. Canalisation des Isthmes de Suez et de Panama, par les 
Freres de la Compagnie Maritime de Saint-Pie. 

1848. Documentos Interesantes sobre el Atendado cometido por 
algunos Ingleses residentes en Blewfields, usurpando con 
mano armada el Puerto de San Juan del Norte, etc. 

1848. Manifesto que el Supremo Grobierno del Estado de Nica- 
ragua hace a los Grobiernos de America, sobre el Tratado 
celebrado con el Comandante Ingles, S r Granville Lock, 
etc., por Jose Guerrero, Presidente. 

1848. Eeorganizacion de Centro- America bajo un Pacto Federal. 

1848. Blue Book, presented to the House of Commons, 3rd July. 
1848 and 1849. Nautical Magazine, March, 1848, and April and 

May, 1849. By Captain Barrett. 

1849. Colonial Magazine, November and December. 

1849. The Darien Papers ; a Selection of Original Letters and 

Official Documents, relating to the Establishment of a 

Colony at Darien by the Company of Scotland trading to 

Africa and the Indies. 
1849. Panama, Nicaragua, and Tehuantepec. The question of 

the communication between the Atlantic and the Pacific. 

W. B. Liot. 
1849. "Wild Life in the Interior of Central America. G. Byam. 
1849. Eeport on the Question of a Canal or Eailway between 

the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Eockwell. 
1849. Die Freistadt Nicaragua in Mittel Amerika und. seine 

Wichtigkeit fur den Welthandel, den Ackerbau, und die 

Colonisation, etc. etc. Biilow. 

1849. Coup d'CEil rapide sur laEepublique de Costa Rica. Mo- 


1850. Dublin University Magazine, August, 1849, February, 


1850. Message of the President of the United States in relation 
to Central America. 

1850. Times, November 28 and December 11. 

1850. Colburn's New Monthly Magazine, July to December. 

1850. Eeport of British Association. 

1 850. The G-ospel in Central America. Crowe. 

1850. Junction of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. ' Westmins- 
ter Eeview,' April. 

1850. Considerations on the Great Isthmus of Central America. 

1850. Central America and the Transit between the Oceans. 
M. B. Sampson. 

1850. Letter to Hon. J. M. Clayton, Secretary of State, on Inter- 
marine Communications. Hughes. 


1850. A Statistical Account and Description of Ruatan. Mitchell. 
' United Service Magazine.' 

1850. Central America, describing each of the States of Guate- 
mala, Honduras, San Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, 
etc. Bailey. 

1850. The Mosquito Question — Squier. 'American Whig Review/ 
February and March. 

1850. The Great Ship Canal Question. Squier. 'American Whig 
Review,' November. 

1850. Volcanoes of Central America, and the Geographical and 
Topographical Features of Nicaragua. Proceedings of the 
Tenth Annual Meeting of the American Association for 
the Advancement of Science. 

1850. Tigre Island and Central America. Executive Document, 
No. 75 ; First Session of Thirty-first Congress. 

1850. Extracta de una Relacion sobre el Antiguo Reyno de Gua- 
temala, hecha por el Ingeniero Don Luis Diaz Navarro 
en 1765. 

1850. Enquete sur la Colonie de Santo Tomas. Cuelebrouk. 

1850. Rapport sur la Situation de la Colonie de Santo Tomas. 

1850. Souvenirs de TAmerique Centrale. D'Arlach. 

1850. The Great Ship Canal Question. George Byam. 

1850. Notes and Queries, May 4th. 

1850 and 1851. American Whig Review, February, March, and 
November, 1850 ; January and March, 1851. 

1851. The New York Herald, 22nd October. 

1851. Memoir on the Boundary Question pending between the 
Republic of Costa Rica and the State of Nicaragua. 

1851. Canal from Lake Nicaragua along the Rio Sapoa to Salinas. 
Oversted. * Royal Geographical Journal,' vol. xxi. 

1851. Centro-Amerika nach den Gegenwartigen, etc. Reichardt. 

1851. Bosquejo de la Repiiblica de Costa Rica. Molina. 

1851. Despatches of E. G. Squier, United States Charge d' Affaires, 

concerning the Difficulties between Great Britain and 
San Salvador. 

1852. Report of the Survey of a Route for the Proposed Nica- 

ragua Ship-Canal from San Juan del Norte on the At- 
lantic to Brito on the Pacific. Childs. 

1852. Central America, and the Crampton and Webster Project. 
Squier. ' New York Democratic Review,' November. 

1852. The Islands in the Bay of Honduras, their Seizure and 
Organization as a British Colony. Squier. ' Democratic 
Review,' December. 

1852. Documentos relativos a la Cuestion Mosquitia. Castillon. 

1852. Nicaragua ; its People, Scenery, Monuments, and the Pro- 
posed Inter-oceanic Canal. Squier. 

1852. Memorias para la Historia del Antiguo Reyno de Guate- 


mala, redactadas por el Tlmo. Senor Dr. D. E. de Paula 
Garcia Pelaez, Arzobispo. 

1852. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec ; being the Results of a 
Survey for a Railway to connect the Two Oceans, made 
under the direction of Major Barnard, U.S.E. Williams. 

1852. Costa Rica y Nueva Granada. Examen de la Cuestion de 
Limites, etc. 

1852. Relacion Historica concerniente a la Junta Publica General 
de la Sociedad Econdmica de Guatemala. 

1852. Memoria sobre la Geografia Eisica y Politica de la Nueva 
Granada. Mosquera. 

1852. Incidents of Travel in Central America. Stephens. 

1852. Historia General de las Indias. Gomara. 

1852. Considerations on the Great Isthmus of Central America. 
Capt. B. EitzRoy, B.M., in ' Journal of Royal Geogra- 
phical Society/ vols. xx. and xxii. 

1852. Eraser's Magazine, April. 

1852. Bentley's Miscellany, April. 

1853. Correspondence relative to the Claims of Great Britain on 

the Mosquito Coast, and in the Territories of Honduras 
or Yucatan. 

1853. Eurther Considerations on the Great Central American 
Isthmus. EitzRoy. 

1853. Journal of the Expedition of Inquiry for the Junction of 
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. L. Gisborne. 

1853. Isthmus of Darien Ship-Canal, with a Eull History of the 
Scotch Colony of Darien. Cullen. 

1853. Meraorias, Negociaciones y Documentos para servir a la 
Historia de las Diferencias que han suscitado entre Mexico 
y los Estados Unidos, sobre el Istmo de Tehuantepec. 

1853. Notice sur les Cinq Etats de l'Amerique Centrale. Herran. 

1853. Guia de Eorasteros de Guatemala. 

1853. The Isthmus of Darien in 1852 ; Journal of the Expe- 
dition of Inquiry for the Junction of the Atlantic and 
Pacific Oceans. Gisborne.^ 

1853. Deux Ans de Sejour dans l'Etat de Nicaragua (Amerique 
Centrale), 1850, 1851, 1852; Projet de Eondation sur le 
Lac de Nicaragua, Transit des deux Oceans d'un Hospice 
Beligieux a l'instar de Saint-Bernard. Dupuy. 

1853. Report of Committee of Eoreign Relations of the Senate 
of the United States on the Establishment of the Islands 
of Ruatan, Bonacca, etc., as a British Colony. Mason. 

1853. Correspondence between Mr. Marcy, Secretary of State, 
and Mr. Crampton, British Minister, relative to the 
Treaty of Washington, July 5, 1850. 

1853. Wanderbilder aus Central Amerika. Heine. 

1853. Eurther Considerations on the Great Isthmus of Central 
America. EitzRov. 


1853. Speech of Hon. Edward Everett. 

1853. ' Times,' February. 

1853. Voyage of Her Majesty's Ship 'Herald.' Seemann. 

1854. Nicaragua nach eigner Anschauung im Jahre 1852. 

Reich ardt. 

1854. Observations on the Territory of Burica, Province of Chi- 
riqui, Isthmus of Panama. ' Royal Geographical Journal,' 
vol. xxiv. 

1854. History of Yucatan, from its Discovery to the Close of the 
Seventeenth Century. Erancourt. 

1854. Reconnaissance Hydrographique des Cotes Occidentales 
du Centre Amerique execute par la Corvette ' La Bril- 
lante,' sous le Commandement de M. T. de Lapelin, Capi- 
taine de Eregate, d'apres les Ordres de M. le Contre- 
Amiral Odet Pellion, commandant la Division des Cotes 
Occidentales d'Amerique. Published by the Erench 

1854. Speech of the Hon. Lewis Cass, U.S. Senate, on the 
Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. 

1854. Speech of the Hon. J. M. Clayton, U.S. Senate, in reply 
to the Hon. Lewis Cass. 

1854. Contrato de una Via de Comunicacion Inter- Oceanica por 
Honduras ratificada por el Poder Legislativo del Estado. 

1854. Eough Notes of an Exploration for an Inter-oceanic Canal 
by way of the Rivers Atrato and San Juan, in New 
Granada, South America. Trautwine. Journal of Eranklin 

1854. Bulletin of the American Geographical and Statistical 
Society for Inter-oceanic Communication across the Isth- 
mus of Panama or Darien. "Watts. 

1854. Report to the Hon. Secretary of the Navy. Strain. 

1854. Official Report of the Proceedings of the Exploring Party 

under Commander J. C. Prevost, of H.M.S. Virago, sent 
to cross the Isthmus of Darien. Journal of the R.G.S., 
vol. xxiv. 

1855. Notes on Central America, particularly the States of Hon- 

duras and San Salvador ; their Geography, Topography, 
Climate, Population, Resources, Productions, and the 
Proposed Honduras Inter- Oceanic Railway. Squier. 

1855. The Isthmus of Panama, and what I saw there. Griswold. 

1 855. The Coast of Mosquito and the Boundary Question between 
New Granada and Costa Rica. Paredes. 

1855. Correspondence of the Department of State concerning 
Central American Affairs, accompanying the Annual 
Message of the President of the United States. 

1855. Sprachen der Indianer Central-Amerika's, wahrend seinen 
mehrjahrigen Reisen in den verschiedenen Staaten Mittel- 
Amerika's aufgezeichnet und zusammengestellt. Scherzer. 

1855. "Waikna ; or, Adventures on the Mosquito Shore. Bard. 



1855. The Practicability and Importance of a Ship-Canal to con- 
nect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with a History of 
the Enterprise, from its first Inception to the Completion 
of the Survey. 

1855. Memoria Historica sobre el Canal de Nicaragua. 

1855. Panama in 1855. An Account of the Panama Eailroad, 

of the Cities of Panama and Aspinwall, with Sketches of 
Life on the Isthmus. 

1856. Compendio de la Historia Polftica de Centro-America. 

Squier. Translated by a Central American. 
1856, The Destiny of Nicaragua. Central America as it was, is, 

and may be. By an Officer in the service of General 

1856. History and Prospects of Inter-Oceanic Communication by 

the Central American Isthmus. Strain. 
1856. Walker's Expedition to Nicaragua ; a History of the 

Central American War. Wells. 
1856. Die Eepublik Costa Rica in Central Amerika. Wagner 

and Scherzer. 
1856. Costa Rica. Article in ' New Monthly Magazine,' vol. cviii. 

no. 431, p. 18. 
1856. Nicaragua and the Filibusters. ' Blackwood's Magazine,' 

1856. The Mosquito Territory. 'New Monthly Magazine,' 

1856. Central America. ' United Service Magazine,' July. 
1856. ' Revue Britannique,' la Cote des Mosquitos, August. 
1856. Question entre l'Angleterre et les Etats Unis sur l'Ame- 

rique Centrale. Carbo. 
1856. Iniciativa de la America, Idea de un Congreso Federal de 

las Republicas. Bilboa. 
1856. The Junction of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by a Ship- 
Canal, without Locks, by the Valley of the Atrato. Kelly. 
1856. Over Darien by a Ship-Canal. A Report of the Mis- 
managed Expedition of 1854, with Suggestions for a 

Survey. Cullen. 

1856. Notice sur le Golfe Dulce dans l'Etat de Costa Rica (Ame- 

rique Centrale) et sur un Nouveau Passage entre les deux 
Oceans. De Lurcy. 

1857. Honduras Inter- Oceanic Railway, with Maps of the Line 

and Ports, and an Appendix containing the Report of 

Admiral R. FitzRoy. Squier. 
1857. Histoire des Nations Civilisees du Mexique et de l'Ame- 

rique Centrale durant les Siecles anterieurs a Chris- 

tophe Colomb. De Bourbourg. 
1857. Las Historias del Origen de los Indios de esta Provincia 

de Guatemala, traducidas de la Lengua Quiche al 

Castellano para mas comodidad de los Ministros del S. 

Evangelio. Ximenez. 


1857. Voyage dans PAmerique Centrale, Pile de Cuba et le 

Yucatan. Morelet. 
1857. Central America. By William Paterson, the Merchant 

1857. Travels in the Eree States of Central America, Nicaragua, 

Honduras, and San Salvador. Scherzer. 
1857. Explorations and Adventures in Honduras, comprising 

Sketches of Travel in the Gold Regions of Olancho. 

1857. Cuadro Estadistico del Departimiento de Gracias (Hon- 
duras), precedido de un Compendio Elemental de Estadis- 

tica. Alvarado. 
1857. Annales des Voyages. Description of Eighteen different 

Routes across the Isthmus. Malte Brun. 

1857. Summary of Report on Survey of the Isthmus of Darien. 

By Lionel Gisborne, in R.G.S. Journal, vol. xxvii. 

1858. Mitla ; or, Incidents and Personal Adventures on a Journey 

in Mexico, Guatemala, and San Salvador. V. Tempsky. 

1858. Nicaragua. The Proposed Inter-Oceanic Canal. Squier. 

1858. Notes on Central America. The Proposed Honduras In- 
ter-Oceanic Railway. Squier. 

1858. William Paterson, the Merchant. Bannister. 

1858. Writings of W. Paterson, with a Biographical Introduc- 

1858. The 'Leader,' July 31. 

1858. ' Harper's Weekly,' March 20. 

1859. Speech of Hon. E. Ward, of New York, Eeb. 15. 

1859. Seven Years' Travel in Central America, New Mexico, etc. 

1859. Pamphlet on Nicaragua, with Initials L. N. B. ' Revue 

Britannique,' and M. Belby's ' Percements de PIsthme.' 

1859. Nicaragua, Past, Present, and Euture. 

1860. Canal Inter-Oceanique par PIsthme de Darien, Nouvelle- 

Granada (Amerique de Sud). Canalisation par Colonisa- 
tion. Airian. 
1860. Report of a Survey for a Railway through the Province of 
Chiriqui. ' New York Herald,' December 8. 

1860. George St. George Julian, the Black Prince. Cockton. 

1861. Report of the Secretary of War, communicating Lieut. 

N. Michler's Report of his Survey for an Inter-Oceanic 
Ship-Canal near the Isthmus of Darien. 

1861. The New Route through Chiriqui. ' Harper's Magazine,' 


1861-62-63. Mittheilungen aus Justus Perthes. Peterman. 

1861-62. Proceedings of Royal Geographical Society for the Dis- 
cussion of Pirn's Route. 

1862. Illustrated History of Panama Railroad. Otis. 

1862. Eine Reise in das Iunere der Laudenge von San Bas und 
der Cordillere von Chepo in der Provinz Panama. Wagner. 


1S63. The Gate of the Pacific. Pirn. 

1863. Keport on European Tunnels. Storrow. 

1864. Exploration dans l'lsthme de Darien. Bourdiol. 

1861. Report on the Progress of Geographical Science. Malte 

1861. Aus dem Natur- und Volkerleben im Tropischen Amerika. 

Dr. Karl v. Scherzer. 

1865. The Bayanos River Isthmus of Panama. Oliphant. • Pro- 

ceedings of Royal Geographical Society,' April 24. 

1865. The Isthmus of Panama. C. T. Bidwell. 
1865-66. Annales de la Societe de Geographic 

1866. Canal Inter-Oceanico. Bogota. 

1866. Canal Inter-Oceanique du Darien Arnerique. Notice His- 
torique et Geographique sur l'Etat de la Question du 
Canal du Darien. Malte Brun. 

1866. La Question du Percement de l'lsthme de Panama devant 
un Congres International. Bionne. 

1866. Notes sur le Fleuve du Darien et sur la Configuration du 
Sol au point de vue du Trace d'un Canal Interoceanique 
entre le Rio Grande du Darien et l'Atrato. Flachat. 

1866. Inter-Oceanic Railroad through the Republic of Costa 
Rica. Kurtze. 

1868. Eifth Letter to the Emperor Charles V., containing an 
Account of his Expedition to Honduras. Translated 
from the original Spanish by Don Pascual de Gayangos. 

Certificate of Christening the ' Susanna.' 

On this day, 16th May, 1863, at Palmetto Cay, Gorgon Bay, 
on the Mosquito Coast, I had great pleasure in christening the 
good Missionary Craft ' Susanna ' after the wife of Captain Bed- 
ford Pirn, R.N., and the Dory ' Lizzie ' after the wife of S. J. 
Pittar, Esq., and in heartily wishing both vessels the best success. 

George Augustus Frederick:, 
King of Mosquito. 

Present, — H. P. Lewis, Commander, R.M.S. Solent. 
J. A. Morrish, do. 

Sam. J. L. Pittar, C.E., London. 
Bedford C. T. Pim, do. 

xlnd a large concourse of Rama, Woolwa, and Mosquito Indians, 
Caribs, and Creoles. 


i93> Piccadilly, 

May, 1869. 








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On the Physical Basis of Life. By Professor 

The Prodigal : A Poem. By W. B. Scott. 
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Critical Notices. 

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William Morris. - 

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